Re: letter names for Old Hungarian Runes

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Sat Jun 19 2004 - 12:58:52 CDT

  • Next message: D. Starner: "Re: letter names for Old Hungarian Runes"

    I'll try to respond to this, since Michael is probably quite busy with
    the just-concluded meeting in Toronto, and since I'm interested in Old
    Hungarian as well.

    > Please draw Michael Everson's attention to this message,
    > it may be helpful for clearing up some issues about proposed
    > Old Hungarian Runes, of which he seems to be in charge.

    He wrote the proposal documents, N1686 and N1758, if that makes him "in
    charge" of them.

    > His draft about the topic
    > says, that the spelling of character names for the proposed script
    > still needs to be determined, and two alternatives are presented, one
    > prefixes the names of most consonants with a letter "e", the other
    > reflects the letter names of the Latin-based Modern Hungarian
    > alphabet, usually with a following vowel.
    > This insecurity

    Probably more like "uncertainty," but anyway:

    > seems to arise from the rather confusing English
    > explanations about letter names on webpages, like
    > But if one is able to read the Hungarian sections of the same website,
    > like
    > it becomes evident, that Hungarian Runes, besides being alphabetic
    > signs in the first place, may also be used as syllabics in order to
    > save space, in which case the forms with a _preceding_ vowel are used.
    > This also accounts for having the "parallel" letters
    > and
    > and also
    > and

    The good thing is that character names are not prescriptive. What a
    character ends up being called does not influence or restrict its
    potential usage.

    > (Actually, by some mistake the latter seems to be absent from the
    > present proposal. I hope these data are a convincing argument, that
    > it is actually necessary to include it. A .gif of the letter form
    > (as.gif) is accessible on the page
    > )

    AS was listed as a ligature in the earlier proposal, N1686. The later
    document, N1758, proposed removing all the precomposed ligatures and
    encoding them with sequences of letters instead. This led to an
    interesting discussion in which Michael proposed a Zero-Width Ligator
    character, a role that was eventually assigned to U+200D ZERO WIDTH
    JOINER (though some apparently still feel ligation is a font and
    application issue rather than a character encoding issue).

    Bear in mind that N1686 and N1758 are more than six years old. There
    have been no new proposals or other documents on rovásírás since 1998,
    probably because additional research would require additional money that
    is not currently available. Contributions to the Script Encoding
    Initiative <> might help alleviate this

    > On the other hand, the names following the Modern Hungarian pattern
    > are only a kind of a "shorthand", and have no claim to be part of the
    > Hungarian Runic writing system. (At least that's what the sites quoted
    > suggest.)
    > I can send Mr. Everson the relevant sections with an English
    > translation from these webpages if he needs them, but it would be to
    > long to send it all to the list.

    They might well be helpful for determining the "best" names.

    > One more remark about letter names:
    > The long-vowel counterparts of the "Umlaut" letters
    > are distinguished in the proposal by doubling the second letter of the
    > digraph (OEE and UEE). It would "blend better" with Hungarian spelling
    > conventions and would probably be more straitforward to decipher, if
    > this was done by doubling the first element (OLD HUNGARIAN LETTER OOE
    > and OLD HUNGARIAN LETTER UUE), like in standard Hungarian "compound
    > letters" (e.g. "cs" (pron. "ch", like in "cheese"), when pronounced
    > long, would be written "ccs"). This latter problem is of a different
    > nature though, and of relatively minor importance.

    Again, this might be useful for determining the best names for these

    > Another remark about directionality:
    > Mr. Everson writes, that "the impression I get is that the scholars
    > are used to LTR because it has been practical to implement on
    > computers and is less troublesome to read for people used to reading
    > the Latin script - but it seems that those particular needs should be
    > met with the directional overrides". This wording is not completely
    > accurate, because glyph shapes should also be mirrorred along the
    > vertical axis, depending on the writing direction.

    Use of directional overrides often does imply mirroring of glyph shapes.
    This is true for Old Italic, for example.

    Note that Michael wrote in N1686, "The glyphs presented in the tables
    below are RTL glyphs; when LTR directionality is used (via UCS
    directional modifiers), the glyphs must be reversed." You really do
    want to read N1686 in conjunction with N1758:

    -Doug Ewell
     Fullerton, California

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