FPDAM5: Egyptian hieroglyphs (was Re: Marks)

From: Philippe Verdy (verdy_p@wanadoo.fr)
Date: Sat Sep 29 2007 - 20:22:22 CDT

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    > part de Michael Everson
    > Envoyé : samedi 29 septembre 2007 22:27
    > À : Unicode Mailing List
    > Objet : Re: Fish (was Re: Marks)
    > At 11:34 -0500 2007-09-29, vunzndi@vfemail.net wrote:
    > >So before this thread is stopped. Who is going to write the proposal
    > >to encode <><?
    > See U+1319F in FPDAM5

    This contradicts your own statement in the N3237 document signed by you for
    justifying the encoding of the new Egyptian Hieroglyphs block:

    10a. Can any of the proposed character(s) be considered to be similar (in
    appearance or function) to an existing character?

    No. There is no question of unifying Egyptian Hieroglyphs with other scripts
    or symbols. U+2625 ANKH is not the same character as
    EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPH S034, despite the origin of the former in the latter.

    Also I just wonder how the proposed encoding can be sufficient to correctly
    encode any Hieroglyphic texts, given that it contains NO combining
    character, and no layout control characters for representing the quadrat

    For other readers of this list, the Egyptian hieroglyhic quadrat plays a
    graphical role similar to the Han ideographic composition square or the
    Hangul syllabic square, when some hieroglyphs use only a half or a quarter
    of the quadrat; in addition the logical reading order of a four-parts
    quadrat is not necessarily left-to-right then top-to-bottom, even if
    quadrats are ordered in the page using this layout; in addition a quadrat
    may have other determinatives appended after or below them, with distinct

    As a consequence the semantic distinction between the "1" determinative (a
    simple vertical stroke) written below a hieroglyph (in the same composition
    quadrat) to give it the semantic of a ideograph, and the same determinative
    written to the left of a hieroglyph (in the same composition quadrat) is not

    One example: the glyph representing a house (a horizontal rectangle, opened
    at the bottom side) denotes a house/home only when the determinative 1 (or
    other numeric determinatives) is written below it in the same quadrat.
    Without this determinative below, it represents a sound. With a
    determinative 1 written after it (on the left of the quadrat) it represents
    a figurative/abstract meaning derived from the house. The effective position
    of the determinatives depends on the text layout (horizontal or vertical)
    and directionality (left-to-right in European books by egyptologists, or
    traditional right-to-left on most old scriptures).

    Note that dual/plural numeric determinatives (composed with the singular
    determinatives noting 1, 10, 100, 1000, 10000) are encoded in their composed
    form (within the quadrat). However their layout is just one of the
    possibilities (for example the numeric determinative 3 is shown as 3
    vertical bars, aligned horizontally in a quadrat, which is appropriate for
    its used below another subject hieroglyph (where it will in fact use the
    lower part of the quadrat) but not when it must be written on the left
    (despite it denotes the same thing: 3 or plural, i.e. non dual). It is then
    encoded twice for noting the same plural (U+133E2 =Z002 for the horizontal
    alignment and U+133E3 =Z003 for the vertical alignment) and another
    horizontal alignment is encoded for the explicit number 3 (U+133F4 =Z015B,
    but only horizontally); another encoding is made for the numeric date 3
    (with horizontal strokes aligned vertically, but this is not a determinative
    with the same meaning, most probably an ordinal instead of a cardinal)...

    As another consequence, a supplementary encoding convention (such as the
    McS, using additional ASCII punctuation) will need to be used to encode the
    quadrat layout or structure and render the whole text correctly. This may
    limit the interoperability of encoded texts (and of fonts supporting it, if
    this upper-layer protocol) is not supported by the renderer. So at best, we
    will represent characters, and we will depend on specific renderers, but we
    won't be able to represent any text in a "natural" layout, but only isolated
    parts of the text, without actual meaning in Egyptian. So the proposal looks
    like a list of (mirrorable) symbols, not like a script encoding proposal.

    The special (and quite illogical) treatment given to
    numeric/dual/plural/ordinal determinatives makes the encoding immediately
    complex to handle, compose, and render.

    Note that some symbols are proposed with two encodings, in each direction
    (e.g. 131AA and 131AB, i.e. L006 and L006A are exact mirrors of each other,
    seeing a distinction for readers will require determining first the reading
    order, by looking for the direction of sight of peoples and animals). Some
    other are so similar that a glyph distinction is nearly impossible in the
    proposal (e.g. the two birds 1316D and 1316E, i.e. G038 and G039 : may be
    this is a defect of the font used in the document, or a forgotten glyph in
    that font).

    According to this proposal, the characters will be given strong
    left-to-right directionality: this does not forbid the monumental style with
    vertical presentation, with top to bottom quadrats and without mirroring,
    but forbids the traditional layout from right-to-left by default (in
    hieroglyphs, mirroring is apparently required for such change of direction,
    so the hieroglyphs will need to be encoded using representative glyphs that
    do not reflect the most common forms found in most original Egyptian texts).

    Care must then be taken with documents (books) written in English, French or
    German by egyptologists, because they may or may not have mirrored the
    exhibited glyphs found in the middle of their Latin-written text (if photos
    of scriptures with most common right-to-left direction are exhibited in
    these books, they may find that it is easier to comment them by not
    mirroring them in their Latin text, for easier identification, notably
    within legends commenting them). This is normally not a problem for
    identifying the characters as there's normally no confusion between
    left-to-right or right-to-left orientation of the hieroglyphs.

    These specific features of the proposed hieroglyphs, with the documented
    encoding rationale for not encoding (for now) the actual layout found in old
    scriptures (directionality, composition of quadrats with the exception of
    the encoded composed numbers/duals/plurals/cardinals), but may use
    supplementary separators from a needed supplementary set (like ASCII
    punctuation) will (currently) prohibit their reuse as general purpose

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