Re: Response to Everson Phoenician and why June 7?

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon May 24 2004 - 13:19:25 CDT

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

    At 10:22 -0700 2004-05-24, John Hudson wrote:
    >saqqara wrote:
    >>I'm genuinely interested in why Phoenician should not be regarded as a
    >>separate script but have yet to read a reasoned response to earlier posts.
    >I think the view may be most succinctly expressed in this way:
    > The numerous and visually varied 22-letter semitic writing
    > systems all represent the same 22 abstract characters.
    > The Unicode Standard encodes abstract characters.
    > Ergo, only one set of codepoints is required to encode the
    > 22-letter semitic writing systems.

    Oh, goody. Back to square 1.

    Except that Semitic writing should not be handled differently from
    any other writing system. The same analogy can be made for many the
    Brahmic scripts, of course, since the *abstract* structure KA KHA GA
    GHA NGA runs true for so many of them. We could have unified the
    Philippine scripts, which are *very* similar. But we didn't. And we
    *did* use visual variation as a significant criterion which
    distinguishes these scripts. A Sanskrit text *can* be transcoded 1:1
    between many of these scripts.

    A strong tradition of scholarship considers Phoenician to be
    antecedent to a number of scripts, including Greek and the form of
    Aramaic which gave rise to Square Hebrew (which has given rise to a
    great typographic tradition of its own). That tradition does not
    consider all of these numerous and visually-varied 22-letter Semitic
    writing systems to be abstract glyph variants of a single underlying
    structure. It distinguishes them clearly in the same "some of these
    things are not like the others" way that is a criterion for plain
    text representation, certainly for the group of scholars -- and
    educators and other enthusiasts -- which makes this distinction.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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