Re: Response to Everson Phoenician and why June 7?

From: Patrick Durusau (
Date: Mon May 24 2004 - 14:48:13 CDT

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    Michael Everson wrote:
    > 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.

    All Hudson is pointing out is that long PRIOR to Unicode, Semitic
    scholars reached the conclusion all Semitic languages share the same 22
    characters. A long standing and quite useful conclusion that has nothing
    at all to do with your proposal.

    Why? Because that conclusion has NOTHING to do with how any Semitic
    language is represented in any script other than as transliteration.

    What has happened is that conclusion has been brought into a Unicode
    discussion that does not share that viewpoint and in fact has its own
    criteria for encoding of scripts. Nothing more remarkable than that.

    I took the gist of Hudson's post to simply be pointing out that some of
    the questions about your proposal arise from their proponents starting
    from an alien (in the sense of non-Unicode) point of view.

     From that perspective, I think it was a quite useful observation and
    not a "Back to square 1." sort of comment. It illustrates why at least
    some fo the disagreement/opposition has arisen, which I think is a
    useful contribution.

    To answer John's later question about what uses other Semitic scholars
    see for the Phoenician proposal, the ones that have been voiced to me
    include, grammars and other pedagogical materials, and more general
    publications. I think formal documentation is being prepared along those

    For some purposes, such as comparative analysis, the actual script of
    the original text is really secondary. But, for other purposes, such as
    those where the script in which a text is written is important, then
    preservation of that information is important. Really depends on the use
    to which you intend to put the encoded text.

    Hope you are having a great day!


    Patrick Durusau
    Director of Research and Development
    Society of Biblical Literature
    Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
    Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
    Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!

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