Re: Boustrophedon (was: Re: Question about the directionality of "Old Hungarian" (document N3531))

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Thu Nov 06 2008 - 15:30:38 CST

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    On 6 Nov 2008, at 21:04, Hosszu Gabor wrote:

    >> As such, it is not unreasonable for us to suggest that the naming
    >> practice of *our* languages be respected.
    > Referring to the sources in the WWW, there are many examples for the
    > use of "Rovas" in English.

    It's certainly the case that it appears on your own web pages. One has
    noticed that you have been recently making an effort to increase the
    number of such citations, for instance on the Wikipedia. This does not
    mean that the normal terminology in the English language is "Rovas".
    The word "rovas" is not English. It's spelt incorrectly thus (being
    {"rovás"), and no English speaker anywhere would pronounce it
    correctly (as [ˈrovæʃ]).

    > Since from the 19th century the Hungarians preferred the name "Rovas
    > script/alphabet" or "Szekler Rovas script/alphabet". Based on there
    > the resolution of the Community of the Hungarian Rovas Writers was
    > reasonable:
    > "Szekler-Hungarian Rovas".

    Once again, "the Community of the Hungarian Rovas Writers" is a
    private organization of enthusiasts. With all due respect, "Szekler-
    Hungarian Rovas" is not a reasonable name for this script. It does not
    (and will not) attract international consensus. It should be noted
    that in English, the word Hungarian referring to a linguistic
    community includes both the Magyars as well as well as the Szeklers.
    So "Szekler-Hungarian" is as sensible as "Bavarian-German". It does
    not make sense in English. I understand that "székely-magyar" makes
    sense to you in some sense. Your translation into English however is
    not accurate.

    >> Sándor Forrai: Az ősi magyar rovásírás az ókortól napjainkig,
    >> Antológia Kiadó, Lakitelek, 1994. ("The Old Szekler-Hungarian
    >> Rovas Writing from the Ancient Time to Nowadays")
    >> The translation here is not correct. "As ősi magyar rovásírás"
    >> does not translate as "the Old Sekler-Hungarian Rovas [sic]
    >> writing". It translates as "the old Hungarian inscribed script".
    > Any of the above translations is not correct. For the "Az ősi magyar
    > rovásírás..." the accurate translation is: "The Ancestral
    > Hungarian Rovas Script..."
    > Reasoning:
    > "old" in Hungarian: "öreg", "vén", "idős";
    > "ancestral" in Hungarian: "ősi";

    The primary translation equivalent of "ősi" in English is 'ancient';
    secondary meanings are 'ancestral', 'original', 'primeval'. This is
    according to "Magyar-Angol Szótár (Hungarian-English Dictionary", by
    Tamás Magay and László Országh, Akadémiai Kiadó 2002, ISBN

    In the context of a script name in English, "Old" and "Ancient" are
    equivalent. In the UCS we have Old Italic, Old Turkic, Old South
    Arabian. We will have Old Permic. We don't have "Ancestral Italic" or
    "Original Turkic" or "Primeval South Arabian". In the context of
    script names, the correct translation equivalent for "ősi" is "Old".

    I know you understand enough about linguistics to appreciate that some
    words may have more than one translation equivalent in another
    language. But honestly, you must trust a native speaker of English to
    tell you which one is more appropriate than others. In this case, I
    would like to ask you to trust the view of a native speaker who is an
    expert in the world's writing systems.

    If the names you proposed were appropriate, I would be pleased to
    accept them. But they are not. And unfortunately you seem to believe
    that the word "Old" is in some way "bad" for users of the Old
    Hungarian script. It isn't. Please listen to this with an open mind.

    > "inscribed" means "ráírt", "bevésett", "berajzolt";
    > "Rovas" means "rovás" naturally.

    No, it does NOT! According to the **same** Hungarian-English
    dictionary, the meaning of "rovás" is 'notch', 'score'. "Rovásírás"
    is given as 'runic writing', 'runes'.
    And those terms explain what the word means -- but that is a different
    thing from being definitive as to the name of the script in the
    context of other scripts and the study of writing systems.

    The best name for this script for the UCS is "Old Hungarian".

    Michael Everson *

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