Mergers & Splits

From: Dean Snyder (
Date: Tue Jan 13 2004 - 19:44:06 EST

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    The current suggested methodology for dealing with cuneiform merger and
    split trees is to encode just the roots of the mergers and leaves of the
    splits. I have always objected to this and here is why.

    If you look at the attached example of the KU series of mergers (taken
    from D. O. Edzard's Reallexikon der Assyriologie "Keilschrift" article),
    the current suggestion would be to encode only the 6 roots - DUR2, KU,
    TUG2, NAM2, ESH2, and HUN. The problem with this is the ambiguity that
    results in plain text from such an approach.

    If I input "KU" how do I know in plain text which KU this is? The one
    with 6 ancestors, the one with 2, or the one with none? The reality is
    that, due to the diachronic nature of cuneiform, there is only one KU
    sign, then there is a KU/DUR2 sign, and finally a KU SERIES sign. There
    are not 6 characters in this tree; there are 10, and that's what we
    should encode.

    The complexity can be handled easily by input methods, one for each level
    in the tree. So when I am working on a later text I will input the
    character sequence "k" + "u" + SYLLABLE TERMINATOR and the input method
    for that period will enter the CUNEIFORM KU SERIES character; when I do
    the same thing for text in the earlier period the input method for that
    period enter the CUNEIFORM KU AND DUR2 character.


    Dean A. Snyder

    Assistant Research Scholar
    Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
    Computer Science Department
    Whiting School of Engineering
    218C New Engineering Building
    3400 North Charles Street
    Johns Hopkins University
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218

    office: 410 516-6850


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