RE: Phoenician

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Fri May 07 2004 - 09:47:10 CDT

> >It *is* a minefield, because the correct interpretation of the text
> >dependent on particular fonts being on the recipients' systems. That
> >fails the criterion of plain text legibility.
> Of course. But that does not make tagged text a minefield - in the
> absence of your nice Phoenician font Hebrew would show up instead -
> precisely what is used by and large by Semiticists right now.

But precisely what other users do *not* want to show up. Again, you can
encode using Hebrew characters, and get fallback functionality that you
like. But if that's the only choice, then others are left out in the

> >Again, I find I have to disagree. It is much easier in searching to
> >neutralize a distinction that to infer one. And, as has been stated,
> >there are distinct encodings, a given researcher can still use common
> >indexing for their data if that suits their purpose.
> I like the way Mark Davis put it (he uses the word "nightmare" for
> processing over-deunified text):

And described extreme de-unification, which *would* be a nightmare, but
which *nobody* is suggesting. It is a red herring.

When you say

> This is ALL I am trying to do here - just presenting some perspectives
> that may not be apparent to non-specialists, in the hopes it will make
> for a better informed decision.

I left wondering, because after all of the pages and pages of discussion
you and PK and others have generated exchanging perspectives, when
someone (e.g. me) sifts it all and says, "I conclude some distinct
characters are needed" you respond trying to say it's wrong. Do you
think I haven't understood all the perspectives out there, or are you
doing more than making sure all perspectives are considered? Are you not
rather opposing that anything new be encoded? It sure seems to me like
the latter.

> The problem is you are seeing this as "two encodings" for "two
> communities". This does not represent the ground reality for West
> researchers, who have to deal with many "encodings" for many

(Is this just perspective? If so, it's been stated before.)

I'm not going to continue debating this. I've determined *my* conclusion
on one specific matter, and hearing the same arguments again will not
change that. I'm not seeing this as two encodings for two communities.
I'm seeing this as encodings for distinct text elements to be used by
whomever as best suits their needs. There are many communities; their
needs are not all the same, and so I don't expect them all to do exactly
the same thing. But if no new characters are added, then there are some
users whose needs will not be met. The new characters are not
detrimental to those currently using existing characters unless they
chose to make them so, IMO.

> If we deunify Old Canaanite/Phoenician from Hebrew, we will be faced
> a dilemma...

> If we have two applicable encodings available, will we use both or
> one of them for these texts?

The choice is yours, as has been stated many times.

> But what is worse, if
> somebody else has different practices than we do (and they WILL), text
> processing has just become a "minefield" for everybody.

It does not become a minefield for everybody. There already is a
minefield for some, as they have indicated. Their minefield problem is
helped by encoding new characters. Your have a minefield problem only if
you and those you interoperate with start to use both. So, don't use
both. (It's quite obvious that the latter and former groups do not
exchange data with each other.)

> But WHY? We need EXPLICIT reasons to justify a new encoding.

I've seen enough reasons for me to make a decision on one particular
point. I've discussed them in these last few messages. I'm not going to
repeat them -- if you haven't understood or accepted them before, saying
it again won't likely change that.

> Just saying
> that somebody wants it in XML because their font won't show up is
> insufficient justification, especially when the repercussions in the
> scholarly communities who actually use this stuff could be disruptive.

Have you not heard that yours is not the only scholarly community? To
speak as though there is only one, or that all have the same needs as
yours, seems a bit arrogant.

> >I don't think anybody is looking for that many distinctions to be
> I certainly hope not.

Then I hope we can all agree not to revisit that red herring again.

Peter Constable

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