Re: Splitting script from existing encoding?

Date: Tue Oct 27 2009 - 18:35:13 CST

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    > I have been doing research on the "diagonal axis" scripts of Indonesia
    > and the Philippines (Tagalog, Buhid, Hanunó'o, Buginese, Rejang, Batak
    > etc.) and it has become clear that among the scripts of Sulawesi, the
    > Old Makassarese script is distinct in its structure and origins from
    > the Buginese script. (The most easily accessible example of Old
    > Makassarese script in published sources is in reproductions of a
    > Makassarese transcription of the 1667 Treaty of Bungaya, a section of
    > which is reproduced in the revised final Unicode proposal for Buginese
    > at
    > While current Buginese script, also used for the Makassarese language
    > from the 18th century or so on, is clearly related to the Philippine
    > scripts, the Old Makassarese script is closely related to the South
    > Sumatran scripts (Rejang, Lampung and Kerinci), with the addition of
    > some seven or eight characters adapted from Javanese and/or Balinese.
    > It is probable that this script was replaced by the Buginese script in
    > part because the latter, with its minimal letter shapes, is much
    > simpler to write compared to the often more complex Old Makassar
    > characters (which I have seen described as "birdlike").
    > Given this biscriptal situation, similar in a way to that of
    > Moldavian, Turkish, or other central Asian Turkic languages, I am
    > curious about the criteria that are used to decide when a script (that
    > apart from its letter forms otherwise corresponds to another) should
    > be treated and encoded as distinct from another. Cases that spring to
    > mind are Samaritan and Phoenician in relation to Hebrew.
    > The research I am doing is still in progress and has not been
    > published yet, but I anticipate it might have consequences for a
    > desire to encode Old Makassarese separately among members of the
    > research community and Makassarese interested in their cultural
    > heritage.
    > Can anyone give me suggestions about this?
    > Regards,
    > Christopher Miller
    > Montreal QC Canada

    Well Chris, I cannot speak officially for the consortium, but as someone that is in the middle of a script proposal, I have a couple points of feedback from my experiences. First, I would suggest that if the Makassarese is not a precursor or sibling to Buginese, that this would pretty much constitute a solid starting point for a disunified encoding.

    There are a couple other hurdles, the largest of which, I think, is whether Makssarese constitutes a cipher for Buginese. The most considerable answer to the cipher question is if Makassarese has distinct ligating behavior, or does not map one-to-one to Buginese, for example, having a single character where Buginese uses digraphs for some of the phonemes of the Makassarese language or vice-versa. You shouldn't run into problems with enough existing documentation to define the script properties, but some effort will need to be done to really document the script historically, and specifically determine a time-period in which the script has the most representative glyph forms and script behavior.

    As far as I'm concerned, I think that the fact that Makassarese is related to the South Sumatran scripts as opposed to Buginese from the Philippine scripts gives more weight to a disunification than I think is warranted for Phoeneician/Hebrew.

    -Van Anderson
    Duployan Shorthands and Chinook

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