Re: New contribution

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon May 03 2004 - 07:19:30 CDT

At 00:47 -0400 2004-05-03, John Cowan wrote:
>Michael Everson scripsit:
> > Scholarship seems to have proved it, whether or not you believe it.
>Well, we have heard about part of the dispute.

From where I sit the burden of proof is on those
who make these claims about what Semiticists are

>I don't see how it follows at all. Because Greek derives from Phoenician,
>unifying Square Hebrew with Phoenician is unjustifiable? How's that?
>The undistributed (or rather nonexistent) middle term is glaring.

I don't know what a "distributed middle term" is.
In Unicode, we have used historical principles in
our work. That is what was done in N2311

> > The Phoenician scripts have completely different glyphs, are not
>> recognized as anything like legible Hebrew.

Oh shut UP about Sütterlin already. I don't know
where you guys come up with this stuff. Sütterlin
is a kind of stylized handwriting based on
Fraktur letterforms and ductus. It is hard to
read. It is not hard to learn, and it is not hard
to see the relationship between its forms and
Fraktur. Its existence is not the same kind of
historical relationship that Phoenician
letterforms have to Hebrew letterforms. People
have letters in their attics written by their
grandfathers in Sütterlin. You can buy books to
teach you how to learn Sütterlin. Germans who
don't read Sütterlin recognize it as what it is
-- a hard-to-read way that everyone used to write
German not so long ago.

Phoenician script, on the other hand, is so
different that its use renders a ritual scroll
unclean. If you ask me, who shall I believe, John
Cowan who has a structural theory or the
contemporary users of Phoenician/Palaeo-Hebrew vs
Aramaic/Square-Hebrew in determining whether the
scripts are unifiable or not, I shall believe the
contemporary users, who considered the scripts
anything BUT unifiable.

>Well, it would be embarrassing to say just which Indic script would be
>best unified with Brahmi, which *may* be an argument for not unifying it.
>But Greek doesn't belong in this comparison: it *would* be absurd to
>unify an alphabet with an abjad, with or without vowel points.

Specious argument. Yiddish is written alphabetically.

> > And your view that it's acceptable to
>> take pointed and cantillated Hebrew text and display it with BOXES
>> when displaying it with Phoenician glyphs is quite astonishing.
>That was never my view. You asked me what I thought would be likely
>to happen in such a case: I replied, in effect: ideally, the marks
>would disappear (become zero-width glyphs)

What? No chance. On Mac OS for instance, if the
font didn't have glyphs, they would be
substituted from a Hebrew font which did or with
the Last Resort Font.

>more likely, they would appear as boxes. That's
>a claim about what would probably happen, not
>what should happen. I would make a similar
>claim if you asked me what would happen if LATIN
>CAPITAL LETTER Q were followed by dagesh.

But a LATIN CAPITAL Q is a letter in a different
script. If you unify PHOENICIAN QOP with HEBREW
KOP (because, according to you, Phoenician is
just a font variant of Hebrew) it will be
reasonable for people to expect the right Hebrew
behaviours, such as display.

Either way, pointed and cantillated text
displayed in a Phoenician font is a JOKE at best.
And not a very good one.

Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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