Re: Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics

From: suzanne mccarthy (
Date: Sat Oct 29 2005 - 11:59:03 CST

  • Next message: François Yergeau: "Re: Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics"

    Thanks for explaining all that, Philippe. I have a better understanding of the problem.
    I would assume that the French author who wrote 'syllabaires' didn't really understand the English semantics since Syllabics is the original *name* for the system. It was not a shortened invention in recent years but it is the Cree way of talking about their writing system in English and is in sense a proper noun as is.
    The link that I sent shows that the Cree in Quebec do not use the term 'syllabaire' but 'caracteres syllabiques'.
    Of course, when talking about Syllabics in Canada one does not have to deal with the "Unified Canadian Aboriginal" part of the name. FIrst Nations people who use the term in English simply say 'Syllabics', or writing in Cree (or whatever the language.)
    My only remaining concern is that there must always have been a semi-official way to translate the term Syllabics into French and I am sure that 'ecriture syllabique', or 'caracteres syllabiques' depending on the context, is it, not 'syllabaire'.
    In English when talking about Syllabics, we can say "Syllabics is not a syllabary" but saying "A syllabary is not a syllabary." is a bit more problematic, So 'syllabaires' does not have the correct intended semantics.
    Using the term 'syllabaires' will always be an inaccuracy but there may not be much that one can do about that.
    Suzanne McCarthy

    Philippe Verdy <> wrote:
    From: suzanne mccarthy
    > Actually I am a bit surprised that Syllabics was translated by
    > 'syllabaire'
    > in French, possibly wikipedia was used as a reference. :-)

    I really don't think so. Actually, that's the opposite: the French Wikip餩a
    article was created after the French block names were listed in the ISO/IEC
    10646-1 standard. (There's no French names in the Unicode standard itself).

    Also, the French-speaking representants in the working group for ISO/IEC
    10646-1 have very strong support of their language. This includes the
    Canadian representant who was the author of the original UCAC standard for
    the unified aboriginal characters, which are actually used in
    French-speaking areas of Canada.

    The rationale for using "syllabaires", which is not wrong in French (unlike
    using "syllabiques" as a plural adjective with no association with a plural
    name, because "syllabique" can't be a substantive by itself), is that block
    names preferably designate the name of scripts i.e. the name of systems of
    characters used to write text, rather than names of individual characters
    that are part of the block (and that may contain also other non-letter
    characters): it designates the system itself.

    And I do think that in English the term "syllabaries" (with the plural
    because the block really encodes several syllabaries, unified into the same
    system after the Canadian works on this subject) would have been better than
    "syllabics" (a strange plural for an adjective, which looks like an informal
    contraction of "syllabic characters", only because the name of the block is
    already long; may be "syllabaries" was also too long and "syllabics" saved a
    few characters to fit in some technical limits for English block names).

    Remember also that a translation does not have to be made word for word. It
    must have however the correct intended semantics (even if the source
    language is not clear about it, but such claraification may already be
    available from the author of the source text) and must preferably be
    grammatically and orthographically correct for the target language (unless
    these faults did exist on purpose in the source language). And when there
    are several choices of translations, the proximity with the source language
    is just a hint, along with other external parameters like technical

    Although I don't have the text for the UCAC standard, or the Canadian
    proposition to encode it in ISO/IEC 10646, it's even possible that all this
    results from a prior compromize that gave the UCAC standard, before it was
    adopted for inclusion in ISO/IEC 10646 (and as a consequence, the ISO/IEC
    10646 English block names had to be adopted in fac simile by Unicode,
    because it CANNOT decide anything about them). The UCAC standard is itself
    the result of an already complex unification process, which had to make
    several compromizes that were already accepted by the Canadian communities
    that use them (and probably by other nearby communities in US and could be
    interested in this Canadian standard as well).

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