From: André Szabolcs Szelp (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Sep 08 2009 - 06:37:04 CDT
Actuall, _long_s_ has been used not only contextually, but also
orthographically versus _short_s_.
Mediaeval and Early Modern orthographies of Slovene use the distinction to
mark the difference between IPA [s] and [z].
While the algorithmically indeterminable way of using long vs. short s in
many instances over its use in Latin paleography and typesetting might be
and was indeed one argument for encoding them separately, this
abovementioned example is a definite instance of separate characterhood.
On Tue, Sep 8, 2009 at 2:28 AM, verdy_p <email@example.com> wrote:
> "Michael Everson" wrote:
> > On 23 Aug 2009, at 14:08, David Starner wrote:
> > > Greek is a simple script. You have a choice of duplicating one
> > > character, like has always been done for Greek keyboards, or you can
> > > force all the Greek users to learn how to use characters like ZWJ--in
> > > fact forcing them to think in Unicode terms--so one character can be
> > > saved and the encoding is arguably theoretically a bit cleaner. It's
> > > not worth the trade-off.
> > This is a splendid argument for the disunification of some Greek
> > characters for Latin IPA. :-)
> Why that? Latin also has its own contextual forms, even if they are now
> deprecated in most modern usages ; think
> about the long form of the small s (historically used in initial and medial
> positions and preferred in most cases)
> and the current "normal" form of the small s (historically correct only at
> final positions of morphemes), it is
> exactly similar to the case of the two forms for small sigma.
> It also exhibit the same caveats about the impossibility to determine
> algorithmically how to choose between the two
> forms (in modern Latin, the choice has been made and changed the historical
> But there still remains some ambiguities about the choice of the letter
> forms for small a (once you start making
> distinctions in them, by borrowing the Greek small alpha into Latin as a
> distinct letter), and this impacts the
> still common cursive style used by Latin hand writing (even though the
> usage of this cursive style is slowly
> decreasing now, given that many schools do not teach the cursive forms of
> Latin letters before more advanced
> education levels, and that many people are now so much exposed to numeric
> texts rendered on screens that they have
> completely forgotten how to use the cursive style correctly; there might
> even be countries where the cursive style
> of Latin is not taught at all in schools).
> There still remains however, even within people that now use the non
> cursive style exclusively, a lot of people that
> use only the form without the long harm above, and thzt just draw a short
> vertival stroke, or draw their small a
> letters like small alphas, with a single curved stroke instead of two with
> the usual forms used on printed and
> displayed texts; they don't perceive the difference as significant enough
> to justify them to change the way they
> handwrite their texts on paper: the single curved stroke is just
> faster/simpler for them to draw manually if they
> don't use the cursive style.
> But once you start thinking about the cursive handwritten Latin style
> (which is still popular, including in typed
> documents like ads, logos and trademarks, title decorations), there are a
> lot of contextual forms for many letters
> (in fact for most consonnants). The long s form is just one of them that
> may have disappeared today, even if it
> remains in typed books. You think that they are ligatures, but it's not
> entirely true given that the contextual
> forms are simple local adaptation to the cursive joining, and the fact that
> ligatures are often more complex, and
> are created by:
> - simplifications of this contextual cursive forms (to ease their drawing
> and produce more "fluid" calligaphy
> without repositioning the pen),
> - with additional strokes or strokes merged together (such as the
> horizontal stroke in the middle of two successive
> 'f' or 't',
> - or the continued strokes in the ligatures like 'ct',
> - or strokes that are drawn in the opposite direction,
> - or strokes that disappear completely.
> The presence of additional diacritics may also change the distribution of
> ligatures as these diacritics have to be
> dranw sometime by breaking the current cursive line often in the middle of
> the same word, diabling the formation of
> the ligature at this breaking position.
> Consider the two contextual letter forms of the lowercase 'l' (also in
> cursive style) that can appear after a vowel
> or a 'p/c/d/h...' and compare it to the alternate form after a lowercase
> 'b' : the joining type and position plays a
> role similar to the joining types in Arabic (which is still usually written
> and printed in cursive style). In fact
> the cursive contexutal interactions between letters in Latin are probably
> even more complex than in Arabic, even if
> the "kernel" part of the Latin letters remains generally identifiable.
> Consider also the difference between the final and non-final forms of
> cursive letters with a leg (f, g, j, p, y, z):
> in final positions, the legs are often left open below the base line, and
> typically drawn below the previous
> letters, without creating a loop to join the next letter, or a simpler form
> is used without any leg (z for example).
> What happens in Greek is then not exceptional, and happens in Latin too.
> This is not an argument for IPA as Latin
> (even if it has been historically specified as accepting the cursive style,
> something abandonned today).
> Conclusion: Really IPA may have been created to harmonize with Latin, but
> the reality is that today, IPA only has to
> harmonize with itself only, i.e. as a script separate from Latin too... So
> it does not borrow, by itself, Greek
> letters into Latin, but only within its own script.
-- Szelp, André Szabolcs +43 (650) 79 22 400
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