RE: Script vs Writing System

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 19:38:02 CDT

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    > Peter Constable wrote:

    > >I was already after the first paragraph going to mention another
    > >system, and I'm even more strongly reminded of it by this second
    > >paragraph: Sign Writing...

    > And there's also Visible Speech, by Alexander Melville Bell (and
    > improved by Henry Sweet), which is definitely an alphabet (a phonetic
    > one), but also very decidedly featural: different shapes represent
    > different articulators or features.
    > And tengwar is featural

    Back up the truck a moment. I was not saying because Sign Writing is
    like Hangul that we should therefore categorize it as featural. In case
    I wasn't clear, I don't mind featural as an adjunct characteristic, but
    I do not think that belongs in our basic taxonomy of scripts, which is
    structurally based. Not unless there's a writing system in which the
    units of written representation correspond to phonological features. And
    neither Sign Writing nor Hangul is like that.

    > at least in some modes (doubled bow=voicing,
    > raised stem=fricative, etc). And Herman Miller has a phonetic
    > called Lhoerr (I think) which is also based on having each piece of a
    > symbol represent some feature of the phone(me).

    Interesting; if there is consistent variation, then this would be like
    an abugida, except that the consistent variations in shape correspond to
    features rather than phonemes, with the whole representing a phoneme
    rather than a syllable.

    Peter Constable
    Globalization Infrastructure and Font Technologies
    Microsoft Windows Division

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