Re: Against Phoenician

From: Mark Davis (
Date: Fri Apr 30 2004 - 20:31:27 EDT

  • Next message: Philippe Verdy: "Re: An attempt to focus the PUA discussion [long]"

    I find myself in agreement with Asmus on this. When reading Michael's original
    proposal, it seemed fairly straightforward; but it is now unclear to me why this
    necessarily needs to be encoded as a different script than Hebrew.

    Michael wrote,
    > Phoenician should be encoded because it has a demonstrable usage,
    > even if it's slight and mostly paedagogical, and as one of the main
    > pre-cursors to a lot of other scripts.
    > That pre-cursor was not Hebrew, which developed later and did not
    > engender additional scripts.

    Let's suppose that Aldus Manutius had been even more successful, and that we
    only used italic forms of characters now; and that the ASCII table were
    customarily written with Italic forms, and we called them Italic letters. Would
    we go back and encode a separate set of "Latin" characters simply because they
    "have demonstrable usage, if it's slight and mostly paedagogical, and as one of
    the main pre-cursors to a lot of other scripts. That pre-cursor was not Italic,
    which developed later, and did not engender additional scripts" Or would we just
    say that that Latin characters and Italic are simply variants of the same
    underlying characters?

    From Michael's messages, this appears to be something completely obvious to him,
    and he doesn't see why anyone could disagree. Because it is 'obvious' to him,
    his messages are not really making the point: they seem like they are simply
    repeating "it's different because it's got a different name". I'm not saying yet
    that we shouldn't encode a separate Phoenician script. But I don't see really
    convincing arguments reasons yet.

    However, this subject, like the PUA is really absorbing too much bandwidth on
    the list. It'd be really nice if the committed could take their discussion to
    another forum (perhaps an egroup) where they can argue this out and come up with
    one or more papers that set out the different alternatives, with their pros and
    cons, clearly.

    ► शिष्यादिच्छेत्पराजयम् ◄

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Asmus Freytag" <>
    To: <>; "Michael Everson" <>
    Cc: <>
    Sent: Fri, 2004 Apr 30 14:01
    Subject: Re: Against Phoenician

    > While I continue to be convinced that the 22 character repertoire of shapes
    > contained in the proposal is indeed well-known, as asserted by the
    > submitter, I am far less certain now that it would constitute progress to
    > encode these as characters.
    > I would want to see a lot more in terms of positive justification, and/or
    > endorsement from a significant and identifiable group of prospective users
    > before I would consider myself comfortable with progressing this. So far,
    > not very much has surfaced along these lines in the ongoing discussion. I
    > don't find that very encouraging, and it contributes to my sense that this
    > is premature - not because the characters can't be enumerated or named, but
    > because of the uncertainty of the usage model and intended user group.
    > The situation is different from some other archaic scripts where neither
    > the sets of symbols nor the languages that can be written in them are
    > currently encoded. For those scripts, even if the scholarly community
    > prefers to do its work in transliteration, encoding the script is necessary
    > to allow representation of the texts as such, for whatever purposes that is
    > desired.
    > In this instance, treating the earlier scripts as a style variation of a
    > later script appears not only feasible, but would support a continuity in
    > searching for material in apparently at least one of the important
    > languages. By not separately encoding any of the earlier scripts, a
    > technology based on (Hebrew encoded) fonts allows anyone to depict text in
    > these scripts today, using the widest possible range of existing
    > implementations, as opposed to having to wait for uncertain future support.
    > That to me seems a benefit that could outweigh the fact that, just as for
    > Gaelic, or running Fraktur text, certain distinctions simply cannot be made
    > in *plain* text.
    > No such solution exists for those archaic scripts, where either the range
    > of symbols (e.g. hieroglyphics) or their layout behavior is sufficiently
    > different from the modern script. For those scripts, the alternative
    > therefore doesn't have to be investigated. However, for this script and its
    > cousins, we cannot just point to dis-similar precedent or brush off the
    > question. It must be addressed, and as John rightly noted, not just the
    > conclusion but the supporting evidence and rationale must be documented.
    > A./

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Apr 30 2004 - 21:11:06 EDT