Re: Response to Everson Phoenician and why June 7?

From: James Kass (
Date: Thu May 20 2004 - 21:19:37 CDT

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    Elaine Keown wrote,

    > Hi,
    > > Does Dr. Kaufman speak for all professionals in the
    > > field, or would it be fair to say that Dr. Kaufman
    > > is speaking for only one such professional?
    > Prof. Dr. Stephen Kaufman, of Hebrew Union College,
    > Cincinnati, is the leading computational Aramaist in
    > the world. He is certainly among the top 5 Semitics
    > scholars.
    > Prof. Kaufman is the head of the CAL, the
    > Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon. He hopes to completely
    > computerize all Aramaic ever written.
    > He knows more about manuscripts and about variant
    > glyphs than I ever expect to know.---Elaine

    Let's review some material from the CAL web site.


         "Under Explorer, if Hebrew displays properly but Syriac
         does not, try the following trick: click View->Encoding->autoselect,
         then click back to View->Encoding->Hebrew-(ISO Visual).
         Now you should see Estrangelo. "

    Although I haven't tried this, I'd expect to see Hebrew rather
    than Estrangelo if I had a Hebrew-ISO Visual font installed, and
    I'd expect to see Latin mojibake if I didn't. Further, switching
    the View-Encoding to ISO-8859-8 would most likely ruin the ability
    to display any actual Unicode (UTF-8) material on the same page.

         "When displaying Hebrew square characters for Jewish Aramaic
         texts, many of the CAL pages depend on the UNICODE modules
         built into current browsers. Thus, you do not have to have any
         Hebrew font loaded into your system to view text in Hebrew."

    Actually, unless the source embeds a font, you'll need to have a Hebrew
    font installed on your system in order to view Hebrew text.

    From the results for a search of the lexicon on the English word

         byTr a
         1 Syr on horseback
         LS2 68
         LS2 v: bayTAr

         byryd N byryd)
         1 Syr swift horse
         LS2 95
         LS2 v: byryd)
    <end quote>

    The word "byryd" does not appear to be in the Syriac script.

    This page...
    ...allows the user to view the output in "Roman" rather than "Aramaic".

    Here's what the HTML source does for the Syriac output if the
    "Peshitta" option is selected in the query:

         <br>Peshitta:<br><span class="syr">
         .)(r) tYw )YM$ tY .)hL) )rb tY$rb

    That's not Unicode.

    But, the original question didn't concern Prof. Kaufman's credentials,
    rather it was asked if Prof. Kaufman spoke for himself or if he claimed
    to speak for all professionals in the field. (Not that Prof. Kaufman
    appeared to make such a claim, rather this claim might be inferred from
    something written by Peter Kirk.)

    The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon looks like a fine project and, clearly,
    a lot of work is involved. This lexicon appears to aim to cover all of the
    ancient Aramaic words and does not appear to be much concerned with
    the original script(s) used in the source material. The CAL offers output
    in either Latin or Hebrew characters. If the source was not originally
    written in modern Hebrew script, then the Hebrew script output is a
    transliteration, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    (I've seen other lexicons for languages using scripts not yet encoded
    in Unicode which, of course, use such transliteration.)

    The Syriac material is clearly neither Unicode nor Syriac. When
    someone is comfortable transliterating Syriac texts into the
    characters of an old Hebrew code page, we shouldn't be suprised
    if they like to do the same thing with Phoenician script texts.

    Best regards,

    James Kass

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