Re: What to call it (was: Re: Boustrophedon

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Fri Nov 07 2008 - 13:51:33 CST

  • Next message: John H. Jenkins: "Re: What to call it (was: Re: Boustrophedon"

    On 11/7/2008 7:53 AM, John H. Jenkins wrote:
    > Apropos of nothing, I should like to point out that Unicode has been
    > riddled with "CJK Unified Ideographs" for nearly twenty years, despite
    > the fact that this isn't a translation of what the native users call
    > them and it makes linguists wince because it's so patently wrong. We
    > adopted the name because "Chinese ideograph" is far, far more likely
    > to be used and meaningful to English-speaking non-specialists.
    > And I still shudder becase the Deseret Alphabet is called "Deseret,"
    > despite the fact that the people who use it always call it the
    > "Deseret Alphabet" (capitalized thusly). "Deseret" is a toponym, not
    > a script name (graphonym?).

    I would tend to agree with you that the use of "alphabet" in the
    community reflects a broadened sense of the term, one which is at odds
    with the overly narrow interpretation just proposed on this list.
    However, in this business, there's another distinction, that between a
    script and a collection of characters within the script. Retaining
    "alphabet" for the second sense is useful even if in the case of the
    Deseret (script), the script and alphabet are essentially the same.

    The design of the naming in Unicode seems to be that the name is either
    a plural, or could stand when the word "script" is added (at some point,
    not necessarily at the end, e.g. block names with "Supplement" etc.).
    "Deseret Script" works well, even if Deseret is a toponym.

    More generally, just because a word is derived from a specific context
    or linguistic background doesn't prevent it from taking on a broader
    meaning over time. I would see nothing wrong with the term "rune" being
    applied to symbols that are (or were) scratched into wood, bone and
    stone and that bear a passing similarity to the Nordic runes.


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