From: William J Poser (email@example.com)
Date: Sat Oct 29 2005 - 23:26:19 CST
I wouldn't be so sure that "syllabaire" is a thoughtless
translation of English "syllabics". Father Adrien-Gabriel Morice,
who created the Carrier syllabics in 1885, consistently
used the term "Dene syllabics" when writing in English but
"syllabaire dene" when writing in French (with acute accents
on both e's of dene in both languages). He was born and
raised in France, designed the Carrier syllabics with
considerable care (it is a much better writing system than
the adaptations of the Cree syllabics used for Slave, Dogrib,
and Chippewyan - Father Morice appears to have been the first
person to write an Athabaskan language correctly, that is,
with representation of all of the phonemic contrasts), and
was sufficiently interested in writing systems that he published
a lengthy paper on the history of writing. I've read
virtualy everything he wrote except for his history of the
Catholic Church in Western Canada and can't recall him
ever using "syllabiques" as a noun. (Since Carrier people
did not generally speak French there is no evidence as to
their usage in French. The Carrier term is the native
compound dulkw'ahke "frog feet".)
With regard to the point that "syllabaires" has the wrong
semantics because one can say "Syllabics is not a syllabary"
but not "A syllabary is not a syllabary", I see two problems.
First, "syllabics" and "a syllabary" are not parallel in these
two sentences. "syllabics" is used as a name and is therefore
definite. A more accurate parallel would therefore be
"This syllabary is not a syllabary", which I find much more
felicitous. With scare-quote-intonation on the first "syllabary",
equivalent to saying "so-called syllabary", it becomes perfect.
Second, picking up on the point that "syllabics" is really
a name, I don't see a problem with "syllabaires" because
to me at least "syllabaires autochtones canadiens unifies"
is short for the awkward but perfectly sensible:
"systemes d'ecriture autochtones canadiens dits `syllabiques' unifies".
On a side issue, I haven't used accents here in French because
my impression is that people avoid non-ASCII postings.
Would people be comfortable using Unicode? I've actually
corresponded recently with a friend in Korean, sending
UTF-8 through the mail without encoding (that is, no uuencoding
or base64), but I'm not clear as to whether this is really
reliable, and many people find encoding inconvenient.
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