Re: not font designers?

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Mon Nov 08 2004 - 06:24:37 CST

  • Next message: Peter Kirk: "Re: not font designers?"

    On 08/11/2004 03:23, Doug Ewell wrote:

    > ...
    >>So what? I can map Latin glyphs to Cyrillic code points if I want to
    >>transliterate. That's transliteration from one script to another.
    >Exactly my point. (You wouldn't even need to provide alternate Latin
    >glyphs for many of the code points!) Therefore, no designer of OpenType
    >fonts would use font-design limitations to argue that Latin and Cyrillic
    >should be disunified. Instead, they would make a disunification
    >argument on the basis that Latin and Cyrillic are different scripts.
    >This is EXACTLY the situation with Hebrew and Phoenician.
    Not EXACTLY. There is a precise and clearly defined one-to-one mapping
    between Hebrew and Phoenician letters (at least if you ignore final
    forms). There is no such mapping between Latin and Cyrillic, and there
    is a wide variety of transliteration schemes which have to depend on the
    exact language under consideration. A font-based Cyrillic
    transliteration would be useful only in a very restricted field.
    Nevertheless, this is exactly what I did with Azerbaijani, before I
    could use Unicode.

    In this respect Hebrew vs. Phoenician is much more like regular Latin
    vs. Fraktur - note that Fraktur has final form distinctions, ligatures
    etc. It is also like the differences between various Indic scripts,
    which have been encoded.

    >I would add that while Hebrew and Phoenician are closely related—no
    >argument there—my understanding is that most scholars of Greek and
    >writing systems in general consider Greek to be descended from
    >Phoenician, but they do not consider Greek to be descended from Hebrew.
    >It's hard to start with that and conclude that Hebrew and Phoenician are
    >the same, is it not?

    This argument is irrelevant. Greek letter shapes may be closer to
    Phoenician ones than to reference glyph Hebrew ones, but the distinction
    here is largely chronological: Hebrew letter shapes were very similar to
    Phoenician ones at the probable time of this borrowing. Greek cultural
    ties were with Phoenicians rather than Hebrews, but the argument should
    not be based on cultural ties. Many Cherokee letter shapes are descended
    from regular Latin ones, but clearly not from Fraktur ones, perhaps
    because the Cherokee country was settled by English speakers rather than
    Germans. That is not an argument that Fraktur is distinct from Latin.
    Gothic and Cyrillic are descended from Greek rather than from Coptic,
    but I don't think those are the arguments that were used for separate
    encoding of Coptic.

    >This is the last I will have to say on encoding Phoenician separately
    >vs. unifying it with Hebrew. I had not intended to write about that
    >subject at all, only to address the bogus "font designer" argument.
    >Quite honestly, I thought the matter of encoding Phoenician had been
    >decided some months ago, and I am disappointed to see it come up again.

    It has not been decided until the completion of an ISO ballot currently
    in progress. The issue has come up again because of discussions related
    to that ballot.

    Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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