Re: New contribution

Date: Fri Apr 30 2004 - 11:20:24 EDT

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    Philippe Verdy scripsit:

    > Suppose that a modern Hebrew text is speaking about Phoenician words, the script
    > distinction is not only a matter of style but carries semantic distinctions as
    > well, as they are distinct languages. It's obvious that a modern Hebrew reader
    > will not be able to decipher a Phoenician word, and even understand it if it is
    > transliterated to the Hebrew script.

    I own a book about Modern Irish which uses the Gaelic script for all Irish
    words and phrases, so the situation is analogous. Yet we do not encode Gaelic
    separately. I also own a 19th-century book about German which does the same
    thing with Fraktur print and Suetterlin handwriting. I can read German in
    Antiqua more or less, but I have considerable trouble with the Fraktur, and
    the Suetterlin is utterly opaque to me. Yet a Unicode transcription would
    be in the Latin script throughout.

    > Even though there's a continuum here, having the choice between a historic
    > script and the modern Hebrew script will be useful to allow writing texts with
    > mixed scripts (notably for didactic purposes, and vulgarization books). Without
    > the distinction in the code, it will be difficult to read a text using mixed
    > scripts unified with the same Unicode code points.

    To represent such documents one needs markup.

    > Modern Hebrew with its pointed extension for historic religious texts is already
    > complex enough without adding new historic script styles to that complexity.

    But all the archaic versions are far simpler, being plain R2L letters without
    complex-script properties like vowel signs, ligaturing, or even final forms.

    If this is not the case, we need evidence of it.

    > It may even be possible that some branches be disunified to cover the
    > case of left-to-right scripts or early ancesters of Greek, or the case of early
    > Brahmi and Arabic scripts.

    Archaic Greek is well-represented by Greek. Karoshthi has its own encoding,
    and rightly so. Nabataean, the ancestor of Arabic script from a glyph point
    of view, is yet another 22CWSA.

    Nobody proposes unifying the Greek-descended alphabets (though Pontic uses
    the Greek alphabet with a different set of conventions from standard Greek,
    notably the avoidance of final sigmas; see Nick Nicholas's site), or unifying
    Phoenician with Arabic, Syriac, or any Indic script. It's the 22CWSAs that
    are at issue here.

    > One day the Hebrew script will need to be stabilized to work correctly with
    > modern and Biblic usages.

    That day came long ago. We need a few adjustments, a few conventions,
    a few new characters, and support for non-Tiberian pointing.

    > Then writers and scholars will have the choice between the best scripts to use
    > to represent the printed texts. I quite sure that each branch will have their
    > distinctive orthographic system, their own sets of properties, etc... even if
    > there's a superficial one-to-one mapping from one to the other.

    It's not superficial. It's deep. Phoenician shin is Hebrew shin in every sense
    but the purely glyphic.

    > A too broad unification for
    > characters that already are not immediately identifiable by their apparent glyph
    > identity will just create a nightmare.

    Every case is different.

    > If we unifiy Phoenician with Hebrew too early, it will become nearly impossible
    > to introduce new vowels or newer left-to-right layouts, because the Hebrew
    > script will become too complex to handle correctly with these additions.

    What new vowels? And nobody proposes unifying *anything* L2R with the 22CWSAs.

    > Let's keep Hebrew clean with only modern Hebrew and traditional pointed
    > Hebrew...

    We already have non-Hebrew languages using the Hebrew script according to their
    own conventions, and not always in Square either.

    > The simple one-to-one mapping will still be possible for
    > the most direct ancestors of Hebrew, but this will not work with lots of
    > Phoenitic branches from which Hebrew is not an ancestor or child.

    Name them, other than Greek, Indic, Arabic, and Syriac which are already handled.

    Do NOT stray from the path!             John Cowan <>

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