RE: Script vs Writing System

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Wed May 12 2004 - 11:20:21 CDT

  • Next message: Mark Davis: "Re: TR35"

    > > Featural Syllabaries: Ethiopic, Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics,

    > Que? Hangul is an alphabetic script with (orthographic and
    > typographic) syllabic grouping of the letters (into squares).
    > There have been experiments writing Hangul "linearly", and
    > then it is a plain alphabet.

    I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who questions the merits
    "featural" classification. At least Patrick made "featural" a
    qualification on "syllabary" rather than having it be its own thing
    contrasting with syllabary, alphabet, etc., which IMO is a step forward.

    I think your concern might be addressed (at least in part) if we
    described Hangul as a (featural) alphasyllabary. I think that label is
    appropriate because the structural elements are alphabetic, and (when
    not written linearly) they are arranged structurally into units
    corresponding to syllables. (Which is consistent, I think, with Bright's
    usage of the term.) And I'm willing to add the qualification "featural"
    for those who think the metaphorical aspect of the shapes of a few of
    the jamos is really important.

    (But then, Peter Daniels flatly rejects the notion of alphasyllabary,
    apparently because he is unable to step beyond the taxonomy devised by
    his teacher, Gelb.)

    I don't think I would have applied "featural" in the case of Ethiopic or
    CAS, though. If they are featural, then so is every abugida.

    Peter Constable
    Globalization Infrastructure and Font Technologies
    Microsoft Windows Division

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