From: George W Gerrity (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat Jun 23 2007 - 01:40:51 CDT
On 2007-06-23, at 14:20, Marnen Laibow-Koser wrote:
> OK...now that we're getting closer to list topic...
>> Even if these ancients did have a separate set of symbols for base
>> 60, say, we have no need of them.
> On this I could not disagree with you more, particularly if there
> is a scholarly community studying these texts.
>> I have an article somewhere that discusses computations and
>> computational algorithms used by the ancients, even translating
>> the source text into English, with illustrations of the
>> computations involved. The author of this article found no need to
>> use symbols other than 0–9 to talk about the computations.
> Sure. But (again assuming that these symbols exist as
> hypothesized) that is at best a transliteration. Your argument --
> if I understand it correctly -- is similar to saying that because
> we can represent Bengali unambiguously in Roman transliteration, we
> don't need to encode Bengali script in Unicode.
To the best of my knowledge, no living script encodes digits other
than 0–9, except for the Roman Scripts, which also apply a numeric
tag to the letters a–h because of their common use with computer
mathematics. I was speaking of Archaic Scripts whose users were known
to do arithmetic using mixed-base notations involving large bases. I
mentioned Babylonian, but they adopted their script from Akkadian,
who got it from Sumerian. At a later period, Babylon (speaking
Aramaic (Chaldian to some)) adopted a variation of early Phoenician
to produce the script that is used in Modern Hebrew and in the Tanach
(even though parts of the Tanach were originally written in old
Phoenician [Please, my naming convention is not intended to bring up
the extended debate on whether or not Phoenician should or should not
be separate from, or called, Paleo-Hebrew]).
I take your point that scholars may need to have the symbols encoded
in Unicode, and that there will be a normative glyph associated with
it: These codes will also be assigned as numeric with a numeric value
assigned to them, so that the symbols themselves can be used in
normal arithmetic. That does not mean that we need to invent new
glyphs for other scripts to match them, nor does it mean that we have
to assign numeric tags to letters in the Roman part of Unicode for
letters g–z. Rather, transliteration similar to using Roman zh for
Cyrillic ж, where the transliteration is not 1:1, but 1:n is what is
required, where the n codes in Unicode are taken from 0–9, a–f.
Indeed, Sumero-Akkadian is encoded in Unicode 5.0, and a quick
perusal of their numbers indicates four or five digit sets 1–9.
Knowing nothing of these scripts nor the language groups that used
them (other than that they were in the Semitic Grouping of
Languages), I don't understand the significance of the multiple
Dr George W Gerrity Ph: +61 2 6386 3431
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