Re: Archaic-Greek/Palaeo-Hebrew (was, interleaved ordering; was, Phoenician)

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Fri May 14 2004 - 20:20:17 CDT

  • Next message: Patrick Andries: "Re: interleaved ordering (was RE: Phoenician)"

    One last try.

    At 16:21 -0400 2004-05-14, Dean Snyder wrote:
    >Michael Everson wrote at 7:29 PM on Thursday, May 13, 2004:
    >>At 11:44 -0400 2004-05-13, Dean Snyder wrote:
    >>>occur side by side FOR THE SAME TEXTS IN THE SAME LANGUAGE.
    >It's your dogmatic assertion that Phoenician/Palaeo-Hebrew is a different
    >script (in the ENCODING sense of that word) from Jewish Hebrew.

    No, it's my considered opinion, based on years of study of writing
    systems and encoding. Based on an appreciation of the different
    significant scripts in the history of West Asian and European writing
    systems. Based on an appreciation of the NAMED distinctions scholars
    of writing have made, *naming* uniquely identifiable writing systems
    -- something which can be distinguished from ordinary palaeography
    (which has a higher granularity). Based on simple concepts of
    legibility and similarity. Based on the tradition of marks on
    paper/stone/papyrus, and not on the *language* in which historical
    documents are written. And based on the typographic history of these
    writing systems; the Imprimerie Nationale (for instance) didn't go to
    the trouble and expense of cutting standardized type for these
    different scripts out of idle interest in letterforms.

    >I disagree.

    I know you do.

    >You've given no evidence to back this assertion, and I recall no one
    >else here supporting this assertion of yours with any evidence

    That isn't so. Non-experts who have suffered through this discussion
    can understand that the scripts/alphabets which have been proposed to
    be unified under the rubric "Phoenician" all have similar glyph
    characteristics which make them more like one another than they are
    to standard Square Hebrew.

    >(Legibility by modern readers is basically irrelevant in an ancient
    >script context.)

    No, it's not. Even in antiquity the Jews recognized the distinction
    between their original Palaeo-Hebrew (as used in unbroken tradition
    by the Samaritans) and their Square Hebrew (as derived from the
    offical Aramaic script they learned in Exile.)

    >I, on the other hand, have given evidence, including several email
    >attachments of palaeographical charts, showing that they are not
    >different scripts

    I saw your e-mail attachment "Selected West Semitic Scripts". No one
    disputes that these are West Semitic. The fact that someone published
    them in a table does not mean that they are all the same. I would
    unify items 1-7 in that attachment as Phoenician, and items 8-12 as
    Hebrew. Note that the difference between item 7 and item 8 is four
    centuries. Note that the attachment itself identifies item 8 as
    post-exilic. Note that I (and many scholars) have observed that it
    was in exile that the Jews abandoned their original script for the
    Aramaic script which subsequently developed into Square Hebrew
    (formal Hebrew in the attachment).

    >- they are members of a diascript

    This is not an English word.

    >continuum, with a one-to-one mapping of letters,


    >with the same writing direction,


    >in the same alphabetical order,


    >with practically the same letter names,

    But only practically. And so?

    >used by scribes to differentiate archaizing text from more modern
    >text in the same language contemporaneously,

    Not so. The exiled Jews considered their new script suitable for
    writing scripture and explicitly rejected the older one (called
    Phoenician in my proposal). These people were perfectly aware that
    their language could be written in more than one script. They did NOT
    consider them variants of the same script.

    >with both forms legible to the same people.

    An unsupported hypothesis on your part.

    >The burden of proof is on you to show that these are different scripts.

    Anyone with eyes can see that items 1-7 in your attachment have more
    to do with one another than they have with items 8-12, which can also
    be seen to have strong similarities.

    > >>Maybe you don't want scholars to intercollate this material?
    > >
    >>I don't care. If scholars want to tailor an ordering...
    >Interesting attitude for an encoder, that "I don't care" statement.

    I don't. I care about the plumbing, the letters available for use.
    What people do with those letters is their business.

    >I DO care if Dead Sea scroll scholars have to always be doing
    >workarounds just to overcome the results of a dogmatic assertion
    >that Palaeo-Hebrew is a different, encode-worthy, script from
    >Jewish Hebrew.

    The facts (as evidenced in the tetragrammaton examples in the
    proposal) shows that Phoenician script was used in distinction to
    Hebrew or Greek script in certain contexts. If one wants to represent
    those texts in plain text (as at least some people do) then one will
    encode the Phoenician bits in Phoenician script, and the other bits
    in Hebrew or Greek. If one wants to *alter* those texts and represent
    the Phoenician bits with Hebrew letters, that is perfectly
    legitimate, and one can do that by transliterating the Phoenician
    into another script.

    >If there is no possible way to prevent the adoption of a proposal like
    >this, why put it up for review at all?

    To allow experts to examine the character set, in particular the
    numbers. Your objection has been heard. It has been found inadequate
    as against the desire of others to represent Phoenician script
    separately from Hebrew.

    >The actual encoding content of the proposal is actually rather
    >simplistic and straightforward;

    Apart from the question of whether the proposal deals with numbers
    correctly, what you say is true.

    >it's the question of whether or not to encode Phoenician at all
    >that's in any way interesting or merits discussion.

    Well, it's been discussed, and unification has been rejected, at
    least on this list.

    >And if this is a foregone conclusion, an "inevitability", then the
    >review process is a sham.

    Not so. The technical content of the proposal remains open for review.

    >My question is, do you really care what ANYBODY says about encoding
    >or not encoding Phoenician, or has your mind been made up for 10
    >years and nothing can change it now?

    I care. I have seen the objections, and have considered them (as have others).

    > >>If the UTC encodes Archaic Greek and does not encode Phoenician, it will
    >>>make both Classicists and Semiticists happy.
    >>Nope. Archaic Greek can be properly unified with Greek.
    >Then forget about plain text distinction of the two.

    OK. I've looked at plenty of ostraca. I've looked at books on
    typography printed in Greek in Greece, which deal with these issues.
    I remain convinced that Archaic Greek need not be distinguished from
    Greek, any more than Archaic Latin needs to be distinguished from

    >Old Canaanite can be properly unified with Hebrew - de facto, it is
    >unified right now.

    It can, on some structural grounds; but on other grounds, it should
    not be so unified.

    >Are you going on record here as stipulating that Archaic Greek is
    >not an important node on its family tree?

    Yes. Archaic Greek letters like QOPPA and SAN are already encoded,
    for example. Nothing in Powell or other sources suggests to me that
    this is an error.

    > >We're going
    >>to do this because the Universal Character Set is a cultural artifact
    >>for everyone, not simply a tool for certain kinds of scholars.
    >My proposal to encode Archaic Greek instead of Phoenician is a
    >solution that will work better for everyone - your proposal to
    >encode Phoenician is an inadequacy for Classicists,

    An unsupported supposition.

    >an increased mess for Semiticists,

    Semiticists like you who prefer to transliterate in Hebrew are
    already served by Unicode as it is. You have not demonstrated

    >and a convenience for makers of plain text alphabet charts.

    Well, I disagree, and can only state again: "Pete oun maaje mmof
    esotm marefsotm."

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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