From: Peter Constable (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon May 24 2004 - 08:17:51 CDT
> From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Behalf Of Peter Kirk
> Sent: Monday, May 24, 2004 3:08 AM
> >> As I understand it, what at least a number of Semitic scholars want
> >> to do is not to transliterate, but to represent Phoenician texts
> >> Phoenician letters with the Unicode Hebrew characters...
> > More hearsay! Who has offered any evidence of this? No one. ...
> Well, Dean Snyder has been saying for some time that he wants the
> difference between Hebrew and Phoenician to be a font change...
The issue here is that what you say scholars want to do (viz. encode
using Unicode Hebrew characters and display with PH glyphs) is already
technically possible, and so if they *really do* want to do that, then
it's not unreasonable to expect that they might have attempted to do so.
But that would imply the existence of such fonts. So, if such fonts do
not exist, it calls into question whether in fact the claim is true.
(And if the only PH fonts have glyphs on Latin characters, then the only
argument they could support would be an argument to unify PH with Latin!
They otherwise demonstrate nothing except historical practice.)
> And if you want evidence of use of corresponding glyph to code point
> mappings for Phoenician/palaeo-Hebrew and square Hebrew fonts, looks
> the following:
> http://www.historian.net/files.htm: set of various Semitic fonts
> including Phoenician with the same mappings.
All the fonts I looked at on this site used W Sem glyphs for Latin
These likewise appear to use Basic Latin characters.
> http://members.tripod.com/~ebionite/fonts.htm: palaeo-Hebrew mapped as
> "Web Hebrew", which is basically ISO 8859-8 visual.
Now, these are an interesting hodgepodge. Five different fonts, one of
the square Hebrew (so I'll consider only the others):
Evyoni Palaeo: encodes PH in the Basic Latin range
Evyoni Megawriter: encodes PH in the Latin-1 range (and an illegal
rip-off of Times New Roman, btw)
Evyoni Hebrew Encoded Palaeo, Evyoni TNRH PalaeoHebrew (two more illegal
TNR derivatives): Ta da! These actually do encode PH glphs using Unicode
So, what does this demonstrate?
- There is clear evidence that some people want to encode PH glyphs
using Hebrew characters.
- It supports the claim that there are Semitic scholars who consider PH
characters and square Hebrew characters to be the same characters, with
glyph variants (but we already knew this because some of these people
have already told us this is their view).
- If Semitic scholars want to encode PH as Hebrew characters and display
with a font that uses PH glyphs, they have at least two fonts at their
disposal (but, oops!, they are illegal fonts, so if they have moral
integrity they won't use these but will look for others).
And what does this not demonstrate?
- That there is no reason to encode Phoenician as a separate script.
It provides support for that case, but does not make the case on its
own. There are other factors, notably the needs of users *other* than
Semiticists. The point has been made by the unification camp more than
once that encoding PH text using characters other than Hebrew makes it
harder for Semiticists to search for data. But these people have not
adequately responded to the counter-arguments (and in so doing have not
adequately acknowledged the needs of non Semiticists) that
- they do not need to encode their texts any differently, and in fact in
a given research project the people involved in the project will most
likely manage their own data and make sure it is encoded in one way
according to their preferences (they already have to normalize their
data to deal with the encoded-as-Hebrew vs. encoded-as-Latin issue);
- it is not difficult to convert data, or to make retrieval software
treat separately-encoded PH the same as Hebrew
- for the non-Semiticist interested in PH but not Hebrew, searching for
PH data in a sea of Hebrew data (if they are unified) is all but
I think we can stop debating whether anybody considers PH characters to
be the same as Hebrew characters, of whether anybody wants to encode PH
text using Hebrew characters and display it using fonts with appropriate
I also think we should stop debating whether Phoenician script is a
distinct script from Hebrew script (talking about the script, not
encoded characters): it is clear that there is disagreement and that
opinions are not going to change. The facts are that some consider them
the same, and that some do not.
We do not need to debate which view is correct; what we need to do is
consider how we respond to each of those points of view when it comes to
developing character encoding standards and IT implementations. And
those considerations must take into account the needs of all users:
Semiticists, and non-Semiticists.
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