Re: Ewellic

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Wed Nov 12 2003 - 19:49:22 EST

  • Next message: D. Starner: "Re: Ewellic"

    Jim Allan responded to Michael Everson:

    > I posted:
    > > /Accordingly both Ewellic and Theban could be treated as ciphers of /
    > > /subsets of the Latin script. /
    > ////Michael Everson responded:
    > > I don't see how that follows at all.
    > We have two scripts in which the forms of the characters are not at all
    > those of the Latin script.


    > However for both every character can be matched with a corresponding
    > character in the Latin script.

    True for Theban. Not true for Ewellic.

    > So why would one be called a cipher and one not?

    See above.

    > Ewellic, to be sure, does not match one to one with the standard Latin
    > alphabet. But I would presume that when Doug Ewell created it he was
    > familiar with either IPA or some other phonemic/phonetic notation such
    > as that in Webster dictionaries. I would suppose he created Ewellic as a
    > cipher of such characters.

    Not true, as Doug Ewell has himself stated, and as is documented
    in the Ewellic entry in the Conscript registry.

    > Would Ewellic be any more or less useful if coded as a cipher of IPA
    > characters rather than in the PUA?

    It can't be, since Ewellic is a phonemic script, created de novo,
    like Shavian, to represent phonemic sounds of English (primarily)
    as orthographic units. It wasn't designed as, nor is it a cipher
    of IPA.

    You could create an IPA-based orthography that would be isomorphic
    to the Ewellic units, and use that to *transliterate* Ewellic
    into something more readable for people familiar with IPA. But
    even that would not be a cipher -- it would simply be another
    Latin orthography used for transliteration.

    *Scripts* are writing systems designed to convey language content.
    Sometimes they convey phonemic units of languages; sometimes they
    convey other kinds of units. And inevitably, through historic
    change, they end up being very messy representations of language
    content. But the point is the elements of the script map
    (however obscurely) to the elements of the language(s).

    *Ciphers* are orthographies designed (ideally) to map one-to-one
    against graphemes of a writing system and (ideally) are designed
    to obscure those graphemes by using non-obvious forms to hide
    content from casual observers.

    And yes, I know that people can take a script and use it
    as a cipher (e.g.: Masonic use of Samaritan). And yes, I know
    that in principle, a cipher could graduate through common use
    into becoming a script in its own right (though I can't offhand
    think of an actual case to illustrate that).

    But jeez, louise, you'd think that people on this list would
    be sophisticated enough about writing systems and scripts to
    not have to have long, dragged-out arguments attempting to
    clarify the obvious.


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