Re: Arid Canaanite Wasteland (was: Re: New contribution)

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Sun May 02 2004 - 18:26:57 CDT

At 11:06 -0700 2004-05-02, Peter Kirk wrote:

>Michael Everson, who knows so little Phoenician that he doesn't know
>how similar it is to Hebrew?

You are confusing language and script. I am not encoding the
Phoenician language. I am encoding a set of genetically related
scripts with similar behaviours, which differ from Hebrew in shape
(but which are similar in shape themselves) and in function (Hebrew
has grown enormously complex with its representation. I believe that
if you take a pointed and cantillated Hebrew text and were to change
the "font" to "Phoenician" you would end up with something that is,
plain and simply, utterly wrong.

>James Kass, who doesn't know that "in Phoenician" means "in the
>Phoenician language" rather than "in Phoenician script"?

James Kass' reputation for solid thinking on Unicode matters remains
unsullied as far as I am concerned, despite your mud-slinging. James
understands the difference between language and script quite well.

>Anyone else? Perhaps one or two, and no evidence for a "group". Not
>nearly as many as want Klingon encoded. Do they have an actual use
>for the script?

It is a Universal Character Set. It is not a character set for
Certain Kinds of Semiticists Who Think That Everything Is Hebrew. The
Phoenician script has other clients. Runic has specialist and
non-specialist clients. Gothic has specialist and non-specialist
clients. Egyptian has specialist and non-specialist clients.

Children learning about the history of their alphabets are arguably
more important than narrow-minded pendants who think that by bluster
they can detract us from our goal.

Which is to encode all of the world's writing systems in a Universal
Character Set.

>Have they demonstrated a need for it or that, if encoded, anyone
>will actually use it? Surely these are the criteria for encoding a
>script, not just that one person has asked for it to be encoded and
>a few have supported him.

I guess it is just a misapprehension on your part about what you will
be "forced" to do.

Let's rehearse it again.

Most Germanicists prefer to transliterate Gothic text into Latin to
work with it, to study it, to publish it, to read it. We encoded
Gothic anyway, because it is a separate script from Greek.

Most Germanicists prefer to transliterate Runic text into Latin to
work with it, to study it, to publish it, to read it. We encoded
Runic anyway, doubtless to the joy of adolescent Dungeons-and-Dragons
players everywhere.

Most Semiticists (you claim) prefer to transliterate Phoenician (and
other language) text into Hebrew (or Latin) to work with it, to study
it, to publish it, to read it. We should encode the Phoenician
family of scripts anyway, because

Your claim that Phoenican is just a subset of Hebrew ignores the
historical facts of the development of the Hebrew script, in
particular with regard to the development of related scripts like
Samaritan. The unification which we did for Phoenician correctly
rounds up like with like, and leaves specialized branches of the West
Semitic writing systems (like Hebrew and Samaritan) alone as separate

>"Need" is more than just "want". I am thinking of people who would
>actually use this encoding, who would prefer to use it, and who are
>not adequately provided for by existing solutions e.g. using the
>Hebrew script.

A font hack is a font hack, whether the Phoenician glyphs are hacked
onto Latin characters or whether they are hacked onto Hebrew
characters. I have plenty of Phoenician fonts hacked onto Latin
characters (showing the need for developers who are NOT Semiticists,
perhaps, to write Phoenician letters)

But I have said that before.

>Well, the only people known to me to support this encoding are
>members of this list. The proposer has not provided in the proposal
>the names of anyone else or any other information about anyone else.

Perhaps I will improve the bibliography. I have abundant text from
historians of writing systems which clearly distinguish Hebrew and
Phoenician scripts. Some of those historians of writing systems are
dead. Some long dead.

Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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