Re: Bantu click letters

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Thu Jun 10 2004 - 10:16:25 CDT

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Bantu click letters"

    At 10:46 -0400 2004-06-10, John Cowan wrote:

    >We must be talking past one another somehow, but I don't understand how.
    >To represent the text as originally written, I need a digital representation
    >for each of the characters in it. Since all I want to do is reprint
    >the book -- I don't need to use the unusual characters in interchange --
    >the PUA and a commissioned font seem just perfect to me.

    Erm. You could say that about ANY additions to the Unicode Standard!

    >I intend no antagonism.

    It is perceived. "No! Bad characters! No biscuit!"

    >We treat the Phaistos-disk characters as guilty until proven innocent,
    >for the same reason -- there's only one text.

    I would disagree. Say it were a bilingual and we could read it. Do
    you really think we wouldn't encode the script? In any case, it's not
    a true analogy, since Phaistos presents a script, and the Khoisian
    characters are phonetic additions to Latin.

    >There's no *point* in encoding the PD characters because they aren't
    >used in interchange -- see above.

    This doesn't make any sense. I have the Phaistos text encoded with
    PUA characters and a font available for it. If you wanted to exchange
    the text (by sending it to someone else) you could do so. If Phaistos
    were encoded outside of the PUA, it would likewise be exchangeable.
    Bits of Phaistos could be inserted into Latin or Greek or Russian
    text describing them. And those texts could be interchanged.

    > > >If I decided to start using thorn instead of theta in my otherwise
    > > >IPA transcriptions, that would be an idiosyncratic use of it.
    > >
    > > Plenty of Germanist transcriptions use thorn. In any case, the
    >> analogy isn't relevant, as both thorn and theta are encoded and
    >> available for use.
    >I was talking about what it means to be idiosyncratic.

    That isn't what Doke was doing. He was representing what are to us
    extremely strange sounds in the Latin script.

    >I was addressing the question of the *novelty* of the characters.
    >If neither you nor I nor anyone else in this community has seen them
    >before, they are most certainly novel.

    That is not a reason to consign them to the PUA.

    > > I am gobsmacked. On what grounds are these not characters? They are
    >> not glyph representations of other characters.
    >They *are* characters. It's just not useful to encode them, any more
    >than it's useful to encode most of the scripts in the Conscript Registry.

    If they are encoded, then historians of Khoisian linguistics can make
    use of them. In what way is this "not useful"?

    >Find more documents, and the picture changes.

    Go to the NYPL and look up Bantu Studies and some of Doke's other
    works for me, will you? I'll be in Markham for the next fortnight. Of
    course I will do what I can when I'm at the Library of Congress in
    early July, but you are welcome to assist.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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