Re: The Phaistos Disc

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Tue Apr 04 2006 - 18:41:12 CST

  • Next message: David Starner: "Re: The Phaistos Disc"

    At 17:16 -0700 2006-04-04, Mike Ayers wrote:
    >Michael Everson wrote:
    >>* The set of characters is stable.
    >To say that an undeciphered writing for which only one example has
    >ever been found has a "stable" set of characters is... well, words
    >elude me here. There may be a stable set of characters used for
    >discussions of the Phaistos disc, but that is not really the same
    >thing, is it?

    The set of Phaistos Disc characters has been unchanged in the 98
    years that the characters has been known, apart from the fact that it
    is only more recently (rather than more remotely) that people have
    considered it important to distinguish the punctuation marks as such,
    apart from the basic characters.

    >>* There's been two PUA implementations and at least two non-UCS
    >>font implemenations (one commercial!) available for a number of
    ><shrug> Your point...?

    My point is that UCS and other computer implementations are not
    irrelevant to the need of user communities to exchange text using the

    >>* There is a growing body of literature about this script, on its
    >>own and in comparison with other scripts, and this shows no signs
    >>of abating.
    >Yes. However, is it really proper to consider this as character
    >usage, when these "characters" are being inserted into the text only
    >to clarify which is being discussed?

    Yes, of course it is proper to do so.

    >>* it is required for scholarly as well as non-scholarly use
    >Required? I'm skeptical. Helpful, yes, but hardly required, at
    >least so long as the meaning of these glyphs is unknown.

    No. The entities are discussed and described, singly and in groups
    which might be words or phrases, whether or not we know what their
    meaning is.

    >>* using in-line images (as in the Wikipedia article) is
    >>inconvenient and unsearchable
    >Ummm... search "Phaistos". Since the "characters" are
    >undeciphered, their only use is in discussing the disc.

    If I am interested in searching the internet for all the examples of
    people who are discussing the use of the PLUMED HEAD, I cannot do so
    because there is nothing I can search for. Graphics are not
    searchable, and neither are PUA code points.

    >The "convenience" point is debatable, as I don't see the type of
    >keyboard gymnastics necessary for typing obscure codepoints to be
    >much more convenient than inserting pictures, in most cases.

    Encoded characters can be searched for. Pictures (in this sense) cannot.

    >>* there is plenty of space available in the SMP

    It responds to a particular argument

    >>* encoding is required so that users can process Phasistos
    >>characters in a uniform and consistent manner (e.g. for web
    >That's three mentions of web searches. I suspect that this is a
    >specious argument. What would be the point of searching on Phastian
    >(?!) "text", given that it has no agreed meaning? Even when
    >referring to existing academic references, would there be any point
    >to searching for such text?

    Not at all. No character or phrase in my own CSUR web page which
    contains the entire Phaistos Text can be searched for. Google ignores
    all of the characters.

    >>* the Phaistos Disc characters are used at least as much as most of
    >>the 40,000+ CJK-B characters
    >I see no merit in this argument.

    I do.

    >Chinese is a productive writing system for which Unicode has no
    >productive model, therefore a large number of rarely used characters
    >will be encoded for completeness.

    I'm talking about thousands of characters which no one knows, which
    no one uses, and some of them were never real characters used outside
    of dictionaries. Yet we shrug our shoulders and say to the CJK
    community, "OK, friends, encode what your culture needs". Well our
    culture talks about the Phaistos Disc and its individual characters,
    and has done since it was discovered in 1908.

    >The value is measured not by the usage of a subset of characters,
    >but by the usage of the writing system. Also, since the Extension B
    >characters are genuine new adds, not compatibility characters, slow
    >acceptance is to be expected as fonts, typing methods, and SMP
    >support in general roll out slowly.

    No one uses them.

    >Also, I wuld like to know what you mean by "used" here.
    >Specifically, how much of this is inline? Very little, I suspect.

    Our proposal gives some examples. It doesn't take a whole lot of
    imagination to see the utility of encoding these characters. And
    Mike, if you don't want to use Phaistos Disc characters, that's
    really fine with me. It's not an argument against their encoding,

    >Finally, a comment on the proposal itself: the START_OF_TEXT seems
    >completely unnecessary.

    Don't use it, then. When we prepared the CSUR encoding, users of the
    Phaistos Disc characters specifically asked for the punctuation
    characters to be added.

    >Also, shouldn't the SEPARATOR be unified with any of a number od
    >similar characters?

    I don't think so. It needs to harmonize with the START OF TEXT, and
    all of the other characters have their own uses. We pointed out that
    any su

    >But let's see it proven as text before we encode it as such.

    It has been described and discussed as text for nearly a century.

    >That and six bucks will buy you a beer at the local bar,


    Michael Everson *

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Apr 04 2006 - 18:48:02 CST