Re: New contribution

From: Dean Snyder (
Date: Wed Apr 28 2004 - 23:26:31 EDT

  • Next message: Mark E. Shoulson: "Re: New contribution"

    Mark E. Shoulson wrote at 10:48 PM on Wednesday, April 28, 2004:

    >>And once you answer that question, perhaps you can contribute to
    >>a specification of what the rest of the list of appropriate "landmarks"
    >>consists of.
    >This is really what it all boils down to. The script spectrum is
    >inarguably a continuum, and it's a matter of how many snapshots or
    >branches to encode, and which ones. And of course, *who* gets to make
    >that decision. It's something to be approached with some care, but
    >perhaps it's smarter *not* to approach it with care, since a careful,
    >detailed study involving more than one single decision-maker is almost
    >certain to produce nearly endless debate and no decisions!

    Realistically, I think a reasonable and strongly defensible decision
    could be made after several months of email discussion with the right
    people, both Unicode experts and Semitic scholars.

    >I think there probably should be more than one branch, and I can
    >certainly see no easy way to agree on how many or which. Take some
    >relatively respected tree and find important-looking nodes? I know I
    >have my own idiosyncratic feelings about "this and this are the same
    >script, these two aren't," but I probably couldn't prove them.

    And you are symptomatic, as am I, of most researchers in this field.

    The problem crops up in a situation like this:

    1) You find an Iron Age text in Israel that exhibits characteristics of
    both Phoenician and Aramaic orthography.

    2) The text shows possible Hebrew and Phoenician linguistic features, so
    you are not sure at all what language it represents.

    3) How will you encode it, given you have at your disposal Hebrew,
    Phoenician, and Aramaic encodings?

    4) How will your possible miss-encoding affect future software results?

    As the situation stands right now, one simply encodes it in Hebrew or
    Latin transliteration, effectively deferring further analysis to other
    processes. This has its benefits.


    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
    cell: 717 817-4897

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