From: Dean Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed May 26 2004 - 15:56:22 CDT
Mike Ayers wrote at 10:37 AM on Wednesday, May 26, 2004:
>> We also have to remember that the Siloam inscription test:
>> * was in "handwriting" incised in stone
> Does this mean that the form of the characters in the Siloam
>inscription were different from those typically used in Phoenician and
Other than taking into account palaeographic niceties, the answer is no.
But I wasn't addressing that issue at all - I was referring to the fact
that the glyphs presented in the Palaeo-Hebrew legibility tests exhibited
the sorts of irregularities that handwriting does (because they were not,
and, of course, could not be printed), which can contribute to more
difficult legibility. I used glyphs that were all identically shaped.
>> * was in a different orthography than modern Hebrew
> I'm not sure quite what this means. I thought it was agreed that
>the orthographies of Modern Hebrew and Paleo-Hebrew were different...?
Actually, modern Hebrew includes several orthographic systems and these
include those used by scribes writing in Palaeo-Hebrew script - it is an
orthographic superset of Palaeo-Hebrew.
Modern Hebrew readers are used to an orthography with lots of vowels
(matres lectionis) and no word dividers. If I were doing the Palaeo-
Hebrew test I would have used a modern Hebrew text rendered in a Palaeo-
Hebrew font - less variables to account for in the outcome.
>> * using dots to separate words
But if the script sample presented to you is in (1) unfamiliar glyphs of
(2) irregular shape, and (2) spells out the words without the vowels,
and, in addition, (4) has word dividers, I am just saying that the
cumulative effect of the COMBINATION of all those sorts of variables can
contribute to the illegibility.
>> * and lacked vowel indicators (matres lectionis), very important
>> contextual clues for reading modern Hebrew
> Doesn't Paleo-Hebrew lack them as well?
Palaeo-Hebrew is a "script"; matres lectionis were optionally components
of its orthographic system.
Matres lectionis is an orthographic convention whereby originally
consonantal characters are also re-employed as vowel letters. As a
SCRIPT, Palaeo-Hebrew, of course, has the characters. Over the centuries
that Palaeo-hebrew was used the practice of writing matres lectionis
increased - starting from zero matres lectionis in the beginning to
extensive usage near the end.
>P.S. I think this whole legibility test trip is irrelevant. I'm trying to
>figure out what does and doesn't separate things.
Dean A. Snyder
Assistant Research Scholar
Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
Computer Science Department
Whiting School of Engineering
218C New Engineering Building
3400 North Charles Street
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218
office: 410 516-6850
cell: 717 817-4897
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