Re: FPDAM5: Egyptian hieroglyphs (was Re: Marks)

From: Serge Rosmorduc (
Date: Sun Sep 30 2007 - 04:57:53 CST

  • Next message: Philippe Verdy: "RE: FPDAM5: Egyptian hieroglyphs (was Re: Marks)"

    Philippe Verdy a écrit :
    > 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
    > layout.
    It was decided to leave the sign layout outside of the character
    encoding, as the simple combining characters you think of, if they give
    an acceptable approximation,
    are far from covering all possibilities. In particular, in some cases,
    egyptologists will require exact positioning -- so, basically, one would
    need to put into unicode a system which is quite clearly outside its bounds.

    > 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
    > meaning.
    > 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).
    The layout of the signs is significant, but gives only hints at their
    use. One can perfectly find the word "house" with the "ideogram
    determinative" writen after, not below it. It's just a statistical
    tendency, which depends on the text support (papyrus or stone), the text
    orientation, the script (hieratic or hieroglyphs), etc.

    > 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.
    If we take the current standard for encoding hieroglyphs, the Manuel de
    Codage (which is not perfect), this would mean we would require unicode
    aware softwares to recognise things like embedded groups, with
    corresponding scaling algorithms, etc...

    > The special (and quite illogical) treatment given to
    > numeric/dual/plural/ordinal determinatives makes the encoding immediately
    > complex to handle, compose, and render.
    The precomposed numbers are there because they are practical to encode
    hieratic texts, where the is a ligature for each of them.
    > 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).
    For some of the signs, the reversed variant is here for compatibility
    reason (although I find it a bad reason). In some cases, the reversed
    sign has a specific meaning (e.g. the walking legs, reversed, are used
    as determinative or ideogram in "come back").

    Best regards,

    S. Rosmorduc

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