Re: For Phoenician

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Sun May 02 2004 - 19:35:02 CDT

From: "Michael Everson" <>
> At 11:10 -0700 2004-05-02, Peter Kirk wrote:
> >Stop poking fun at me and treating me as an imbecile. Of course you
> >know that I know that this script was actually used.
> You are the one who said that its *only* demonstrated usage is in
> alphabet charts.
> >The question is, is it a separate script, or is it a set of variant
> >glyphs for what should be a unified 22 character Semitic script
> >(although currently known as Hebrew)?
> It's a separate script.

Please be polite Peter. You're talking to the official registrar appointed by
Unicode, the ISO 15924 Registration Agency.
Well, Michael is only the registrar. ISO 15924 will continue to have more
details about what is considered as a separate script for bibliographic
references and differenciation of publications.

In ISO 15924, you could have later a "Lats" script for Suetterlin, if it's
needed to make a difference between German publications available in two script
variants: Roman (Latn) and Suetterlin (Lats?).

Definitely there's a need to have a classification for bibliographic and
educational usages of scripts. The objectives of ISO 15924 seem quite different
from those of Unicode and ISO/IEC 15926 which do not work on repertoires of
glyphs (like in 15924), but on repertoires of abstract characters (considering
their intuitive legibility by users of actual languages).

So unless it is demonstrated that two script variants will have distinct
semantics (for example if it would be inappropriate to use either variant to
reproduce the language in a way that will be readable and accepted by its
reader), these scripts will be unified.

My view of the Latin "script" in Unicode is a collection of scripts unified
together, both for practical legacy reasons and also because it simplifies the
intreroperability of softwares and systems that use these codes.

The situation for Phenician is quite different. The Hebrew script is already
extremely complex by itself. Som of its most complex rules, that would work and
produce desirable effects in the square hebrew variant, would become disastrous
with another form. Can you really make semantic distinctions with the glyph
layout of hataf vowels applied on top of Phoenician/Old Canaanite glyphs? If you
had to create a special layout engine to handle multiple cantillation and vowel
marks applied safely on square hebrew, would it work as well with the Old
Canaanite base glyphs, which were not designed to support these diacritics and
allow differentiating them?

Now suppose you find some books to be published by some Phoenician searchers
comparing it with Hebrew. He would like to "annotate" the Phoenician script with
some Hebrew marks (like it was done for the Biblic texts to give them more clear
semantics according to a local phonetic usage). Will these added marks follow
the same pattern as on modern square Hebrew letters?

How will you handle the possible inclusion of new variants or additional letters
from the base Phoenician script, without breaking some of the modern Hebrew
script rules? These are probably lots of these additional variants and
extensions, used in the genesis or evolution of other languages and scripts. If
you integrate them into only the Phoenician script, with a more relaxed rule
than for Hebrew which is strongly fixed today, you'll break the fragile buiding
of the Hebrew script.

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