Re: Response to Everson Phoenician and why June 7?

From: Ted Hopp (
Date: Wed Jun 02 2004 - 14:24:35 CDT

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

    On Friday, May 21, 2004 3:01 PM, John Hudson wrote:
    > Let me rephrase the point as a question:
    > What in the encoding of 'Phoenician' characters in Unicode
    > obliges anyone to use those characters for ancient Canaanite
    > texts?

    An analogous statement can be made of any script in Unicode. We can all
    continue to use code pages or the myriad Hebrew fonts that put the glyphs at
    Latin-0 code points. If the proposed Phoenician block can be so easily
    ignored in encoding ancient Canaanite texts, then is the block really

    Frankly, though, all statements to the effect of "well, they have no
    complaint because they can just ignore the Phoenician block and continue to
    do whatever they've been doing" sound less than sincere when they come from
    Unicode boosters. (You aren't the only one who has put this argument forth.)

    In your 5/20 message, you say:

    > There is no reason at all why Semiticists cannot simply totally ignore the
    > proposed Phoenician block.

    But then you say:

    > I think it is you who is being disingenuous, because I never suggested
    > that users should ignore Unicode altogether or that they should develop
    > their own standard, or any of the other things you suggest follow in some
    > way from my observation that there is no reason why semiticists should not
    > ignore the Phoenician block.

    What was insincere about my posting? Forgive me, but it seemed to me that
    when you claim that Semiticists will be able to ignore the Phoenician block,
    there is an implication that they will use something else. I never said that
    they would have to ignore Unicode altogether, but they will have to develop
    their own standards (agreements, if you prefer) for what that "something
    else" will be.

    > What aspect of 'Unicode support implemented
    > in commercial software' would semiticists and other users have to ignore
    > in order e.g. to encode Palaeo-Hebrew texts using the Hebrew block? None.

    This frames the discussion in a way that ignores the coercive power of
    Unicode in the marketplace.

    One could, with only a little imagination, foresee that there will be
    software packages that will only display Palaeo-Hebrew fonts for text
    encoded in the 'Phoenician' block; that will not match texts that need to
    match; etc. Semiticists would have to ignore all the (future) software
    capabilities available to them if only they would cave in and start using
    the Phoenician block.

    Moreover, if anyone wanted to use Phoenician in some future http protocol,
    Unicode conformance is required (at least so says the standard).

    > I happen to think that the Phoenician encoding is unnecessary, but the sky
    > isn't going to fall if it gets accepted....

    I agree with this.

    > ...Now, it
    > happens that there are apparently some people who claim to have a
    > plain-text *need* to distinguish Phoenician from Hebrew, i.e. someone
    > disagrees that it is unnecessary. As far as I'm concerned, this is the
    > only basis on which the Michael's proposal should be accepted or rejected,
    > which means that those who oppose the encoding would better spend
    > their time querying that need directly to the people who have expressed it
    > than making silly, repetetive arguments about fraktur on this list.

    It would be nice to know who they were. I did ask for an elaboration of the
    need in an earlier posting. The only person I know who has stated a direct
    need is Bob Richmond, and that was from the position of a software developer
    serving a user base that seems to have no use for Hebrew.

    More recently, Peter Constable, on 5/26, posted a series of technical
    arguments in favor of a separate script. They made quite a bit of sense, as
    do Peter Kirk's rebuttals of 5/27.

    And this is the first (and possibly last) sentence I've written that uses
    the word fraktur. :-)


    Ted Hopp, Ph.D.
    ZigZag, Inc.

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