Re: Phoenician

Date: Sun May 09 2004 - 22:52:30 CDT

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    The author of the web site "A Bequest Unearthed, Phoenicia"
    ( )
    has kindly given permission for his response to a request for comments
    on the Phoenician proposal to be forwarded to Unicode's public list.

    Best regards,

    James Kass,
    forwarded message follows...

    Hello James,

    Thank you for visiting "A Bequest Unearthed, Phoenicia" and for taking the
    time to write such a kind yet very important message.

    I am indebted to you for having alerted me to this bit of information. I
    was aware the the proposal was underway though I had never had a chance to
    read it. Further, I was unaware of the attempt to smother Phoenician script
    by not allowing it to have its unique and separate Unicode identity.

    No one can deny that the modern Hebrew script is very useful in "dealing"
    with Phoenician script in the computer world. However, Hebrew is not the
    only medium script-wise which can be useful for Phoenician, in fact, Aramaic
    script as well as its Syriac branch are useful too. Many scholar find
    western Aramaic to be relatively modern Phoenician. Further, as far as I am
    concerned, I find it much easier for me to read Phoenician using the
    Phoenician script than to read it using Hebrew. I cannot recognize all the
    Hebrew characters while I can easily see Latin characters in the Phoenician

    With due respect to Hebrew, I believe that it must not substitute Phoenician
    in the computer medium. Phoenician Canaanite is separate, unique and
    independent of any language, despite its similarities with many ancient
    languages of the Middle East.

    I believe one of the strongest points made in the proposal is this:
    > Phoenician is quintessentially illustrative of the historical problem of where
    > to draw lines in an evolutionary tree of continuously changing scripts in use
    > over thousands of years. The twenty-two letters in the Phoenician block may be
    > used, with appropriate font changes, to express Punic, Neo-Punic, Phoenician
    > proper, Late Phoenician cursive, Phoenician papyrus, Siloam Hebrew, Hebrew
    > seals, Ammonite, Moabite, and Palaeo-Hebrew. The historical cut that has been
    > made here considers the line from Phoenician to Punic to represent a single
    > continuous branch of script evolution.

    The objection and use of Hebrew instead of the Phoenician script reminds of
    the problem Champolion was faced with when he was trying to decipher
    Egyptian Hieroglyphics. He had access to the Coptic language which is the
    closest to ancient Egyptian. However, at some point in time, Coptic books
    were not anymore written in Egyptian Hieroglyphics but in Greek; therefore,
    Egyptian was forgotten as a written medium.

    Refusing to encode Phoenician and using Hebrew is an intellectual crime
    against the Phoenician heritage and history which I very strongly condemn.

    I have already planned and started to contact my colleagues in the Aramaic,
    Coptic and Syriac computer community to lobby their support in approving the
    unicoding of the Phoenician script.

    Regretfully, I am not experienced or seasoned in the machination of lobbying
    support among scholars of this field but I will do my best so to do, thanks
    to you.

    My site, a labor of love for preserving and disseminating information about
    my heritage, is continuously growing with new materials as time permits.

    Kind regards,
    Salim* George Khalaf, Byzantine Phoenician Descendent
    * perhaps from Shalim, Phoenician god of dusk
    "A Bequest Unearthed, Phoenicia" ? Encyclopedia Phoeniciana
    Center for Phoenician Studies
    Chapel Hill, NC

    > Greetings,
    > Your wonderful web site is keeping me on-line! Thank you so much
    > for making all of this information available on the World wide web.
    > There's currently a proposal before ISO/Unicode to encode the
    > ancient Phoenician script so that it can have a unique range in
    > the World's standard for the computer encoding of text.
    > Interested scholars and users are invited to review this proposal
    > and comment upon its merits.
    > Objections have been raised to this proposal by some scholars that
    > the ancient Phoenician writings should be encoded on computers
    > using the modern Hebrew script range, and that Phoenician writing
    > doesn't need to have its own computer encoding range because there
    > is no need to be able to distinguish between modern Hebrew writing
    > and ancient Phoenician writing in computer plain text.
    > There has been a lively discussion about this on the Unicode public
    > mailing list recently. The author of the proposal has said that the
    > proposal will be revised. This is why it is important that scholars and
    > other users voice their opinions and why I am writing you. If you
    > have any opinions about this and would like to respond, your response
    > would be most welcome and would be forwarded to the responsible
    > people. If you know of anyone interested who would like to
    > offer an opinion, please feel free to forward this message along.
    > The current proposal is on-line in PDF format at:
    > The Unicode public list is open to anyone who joins, as the name
    > suggests. It is archived openly and more information can
    > be found at:
    > Sincerely,
    > James Kass

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