Re: Mayan numerals

From: Michael Everson <>
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2012 19:33:12 +0100

On 22 Aug 2012, at 14:33, Jameson Quinn wrote:

> So, why would we not want to encode Mayan numerals now?

Because we aren't ready to do it without doing it in the context of the whole script.

If you want to write a proposal to assign them a place in the CSUR, I will help you do that, and help with fonts or whatever you need. Then people can privately exchange data using the PUA in the short term. We did this with Phaistos Disc and Deseret and Shavian before they were encoded, and Tengwar and Cirth are still in the CSUR.

> Typically, numbers are rectangular, so they'd tend to fit into the blocks above in positions 1, 3, or 9, respectively.

And atypically?

> (In modern spoken Mayan languages, numbers go along with numeric classifiers, similar to east asian languages. However, I don't think that those classifiers were written out phonetically, as any reader would know intuitively which one would fit in context.)

It would be better to know than to guess.

> Furthermore, I think there are special rules for "face glyphs", which can combine incomplete versions of certain other glyphs at the forehead(?), cheek, and chin(?) positions. Also, each of the digits 0-10 has a "face form" unrelated to the standard digit, and for 11-19 hybrid forms are used (for instance 10/3 for 13)

This is additional complexity.

> I don't speak any CJK language, but I've briefly skimmed over the unicode rules for those languages, especially Korean. As far as I can see, the facilities that have been built there will help with full Mayan hieroglyphs, but it seems likely that further tricks will be needed.

I have in the past looked more deeply at the encoding of Mayan hieroglyphs, and it will not be trivial.

> Given the complexity of the block-combining possibilities, I don't think it's possible that each glyph element will have multiple code points for each of its possible positions within a block.

I doubt one would consider doing it that way.

> Therefore, I don't think it's premature to encode a single, horizontal-barred version of each of the digits 0-19. As I've said, these glyphs would see usage far, far beyond the rest of the hieroglyphs, including in math teaching and page numbers. Vertical-barred and face-based digits and combining rules can be left for later.

Well, we aren't ready to do that formally without the context of the whole script, but I have offered you a way of doing it in the short term if you are interested.

Michael Everson *
Received on Wed Aug 22 2012 - 13:37:23 CDT

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