RE: Measuring a writing system "economy"/"accuracy"

From: Jony Rosenne (
Date: Thu Jun 30 2005 - 02:51:17 CDT

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    > -----Original Message-----
    > From:
    > [] On Behalf Of Eric Muller
    > Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 9:16 PM
    > To: Unicode Mailing List
    > Subject: Re: Measuring a writing system "economy"/"accuracy"
    > John Hudson wrote:
    > > From your message, particularly the reference to IPA, I
    > suspect that
    > > you are talking about phonetic economy and accuracy.
    > Yes, the question is "when a writing system is viewed as a
    > mechanism to
    > record sounds, how good a job does it do?", where "good" is to be
    > defined. I chose "economy", because arguably a writing system
    > that has
    > 10 symbols or symbol combinations for the same sound is not
    > "as good" as
    > one that has only 1. But that is not enough: a system with a single
    > symbol for all sounds would be very economic, hence the
    > "accuracy" part.

    Most writing systems, IPA excepted, are not intended to record sounds, but
    rather to convey words and sentences.


    > IPA, as least when restricted to the set of symbols used for
    > the writing
    > of a given language, is presumably both an economic (there is
    > a single
    > sign for a given sound) and accurate writing system for that
    > language.
    > Hence the idea of measuring by comparing to IPA (with the
    > undersanding
    > that the methodoly would have to account for the situation
    > mentionned by
    > Peter).
    > Then the meta-question is: is that kind of question interesting? how
    > should we define good? if we could answer it, what could we
    > explore/learn? Or is the whole approach just doomed from the
    > start, may
    > be because historical accidents are far more important in the
    > evolution
    > of writing systems than the forces that would tend to make
    > them "better"?
    > Eric.

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