Re: Response to Everson Phoenician and why June 7?

From: James Kass (
Date: Sat May 22 2004 - 16:04:16 CDT

  • Next message: E. Keown: "Re: Response to Everson Phoenician and why June 7?"

    Peter Kirk wrote,

    > After a day away from e-mail because I was travelling home from
    > Azerbaijan, I found about 100 postings on this subject.

    Henceforth to be known informally as "The Thread From Hell".

    > Well, we are now being assured that people who want to encode
    > Phoenician, palaeo-Hebrew etc as Unicode Hebrew will be quite free to do
    > so indefinitely even if Phoenician is encoded.

    There is no such assurance. The actual assurance is more like
    'people who wish to transliterate ancient scripts into modern ones
    are perfectly free to do so'. Indeed, how could it be otherwise?

    The existence of a Runic range doesn't force scholars to stop
    transliterating Runic inscriptions into Latin, does it?

    > >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.)
    > I made no such claim, nor has anyone.

    I didn't say you did. I didn't say anyone did. But, you already know
    this since you quoted my exact words above.

    > My claim is that Kaufman is a top
    > scholar of Aramaic, but not that he formally represents other scholars.

    Your original post from which the claim might be inferred was:

         "Dr Kaufman's response makes it clear that to
         professionals in the field Everson's proposal is
         not just questionable but ridiculous."

    All I'd asked (sigh) is if Dr. Kaufman spoke only for himself, or
    if he claimed to speak for *all* professionals in the field.

    > He is not a top expert in Unicode, and so considering the confusion of
    > the top experts in this area it is not surprising that the encodings on
    > his website are currently confused.

    The encodings on his web site are in transition. It's a large site
    and I'd only spent about an hour or two going through it. The
    dictionary itself (where I spent much of the time) is still using
    code pages. Perhaps I could've spent more time there and learned
    this truth. Fortunately, a kind list member alerted me that some
    Syriac material on the web site was actually using Unicode Syriac.
    I tried to correct (or at least ameliorate) my gaffe pronto.

    > I am sure he would appreciate help
    > in tidying it up. Instead, what he is getting is ridicule, and
    > potentially a new script which will make his task much harder,
    > especially if he comes under pressure to use the separate Phoenician
    > script which he considers so ridiculous.

    He considers the proposal ridiculous, so he gets ridicule in return.
    It's called "tit-for-tat".

    His posting as it appeared on the Unicode list was offensive. I thought
    Michael Kaplan did a fine job of responding to it.
    > On 20/05/2004 19:45, John Hudson wrote:
    > > ... There is no reason at all why Semiticists cannot simply totally
    > > ignore the proposed Phoenician block. The important question then, it
    > > seems to me, is not whether to encode Phoenician or not, but how to
    > > better communicate that the encoding of a particular set of characters
    > > does not mean that they have to be used to encode particular texts or
    > > languages.
    > >
    > Would that the first sentence were true! As for the second sentence, if
    > the UTC and others really agree that with this position, first this
    > needs to be communicated to James Kass.

    I don't have a problem with transliteration and I'm surprised that
    you seem to think I do.

    > The fear is rather that a few people, who are not true Semitic scholars,
    > will embrace the new range, and by doing so will make things much harder
    > for the majority who don't need and don't want the new encoding.

    If only a few people would embrace the new range, how would
    such a 'fringe group' create problems for "true Semitic scholars"?

    Later on in the omnibus,

    > >Doug's point is, if there are *lot* of people that will use a separate
    > >Phoenician block, then that will validate that it was a useful thing to
    > >do; but if there are *not*, then the unification-camp has little cause
    > >for concern about existence of distinctly-encoded data.
    > >
    > And my answer to Doug's point is that it only takes a *few* people using
    > a separate Phoenician block, not enough to validate its usefulness, to
    > cause severe compatibility problems for the "unification-camp".

    Would it be possible for you to explain how a *few* people using
    a separate Phoenician block, who don't exchange data with each other
    as far as you know, and who don't exchange data with "true Semitic
    scholars" as far as anyone can tell, wreaks havoc on the unifiers?

    Best regards,

    James Kass

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