RE: Script vs Writing System

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 10:16:01 CDT

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    > In addition, traditional Chinese zither notation (qin pu) is also laid
    out in
    > ideographic-like square blocks. However, as this is a notational
    system rather
    > than a script, the constituent elements of each block represent
    string, finger
    > and plucking technique rather than phonetic values.

    I was already after the first paragraph going to mention another writing
    system, and I'm even more strongly reminded of it by this second
    paragraph: Sign Writing, a writing system used for writing signed
    languages, first developed for transcription, though a number of
    language communities have started using it orthographically. In sign
    writing, the representation for a typical sign (I think I've heard that
    syllable might be applicable here) consists of an iconic representation
    of the head with various satellite symbols mostly representing the hands
    and hand movement, the whole being organized into a square space. It's
    even written vertically (at least by some user communities).

    Because there's an iconic relationship between the shape of the atomic
    symbols (the jamos) and the articulators, I find the shared
    characteristics with Hangul to be striking. But obviously, the zither
    notation you mention would be another very interesting comparison.

    (I'm sure the developer of Sign Writing (Valerie Sutton) knew nothing of
    Chinese zither notation when she started, and I'd guess probably wasn't
    particularly influenced by Hangul either.)

    > Perhaps a term could be devised that encompasses block layout (rather
    > linear layout) scripts such as Hangul and small Khitan (and even
    Chinese zither
    > notation ?).

    And I assume you mean, not the Han ideographs, yes? Would probably be

    Peter Constable
    Globalization Infrastructure and Font Technologies
    Microsoft Windows Division

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