Re: Mayan numerals

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 16:37:58 -0700

On 8/23/2012 3:27 PM, Michael Everson wrote:
> On 23 Aug 2012, at 22:40, Asmus Freytag wrote:
>> I think Jameson makes a case that there is a part of Mayan that doesn't fit the standard model of an ancient script that is being encoded (merely) to further the work of specialists working on it.
>> The use he claims that the digits receive in elementary school education makes these separate from the rest of the script. While they may be related to the ancient numbers, their current use is essentially modern and living.
> They're already using it without Unicode, so why not let them keep doing what they are doing until we are ready to do a proper job.

That was true for all characters in use in 1988, yet we still created
Unicode. :)
>> Given that usage, Jameson is correct in that using a PUA encoding (CSUR or otherwise) is a non-starter as is being put off for 5, 10, or 20 years until the full script is deciphered.
> Tengwar has been in the CSUR since 1993 and people have been using it without

Tengwar has a different status.
> The Mayan script, Asmus, HAS been deciphered. It is not ready for encoding. Those are two different things.

OK. But unlike the enthusiast use of Tengwar, which is a synthetic
script, there's apparently widespread use of just the digit system, in,
presumably (waiting for the documented details here) a modern,
streamlined base-19 system.
>> The correct solution here would be a proposal for encoding what amounts to a "modern representation of Mayan digits", which then would have no tie in with the encoding of the ancient script itself.
> So we end up with two different encodings for Mayan numbers? I'm not tempted.

I'd like to judge that with more facts on the table. If the claims have
merit and if they amount to what I think they do (based on what info was
suggested up to now) there may be good reason to disunify these, even if
you had the ancient encoding first.
>> Having a duplicate encoding for "modern" and "ancient" Mayan digits isn't problematical on any level.
> Apart from the needless duplication.
Needless duplication of the argument.

I can see possible rationales that make this far from "needless", so
let's look at them first.
>> The code space needed is "minitesimal"
> Irrelevant.
No, if someone asks for 20,000 code points there's usually strong
attempts to see whether that number can be reduced by encoding games,
so, yes, size matters.
>> and, as Mayan as a full script does not see living use, and as the digits even where used in modern context are not the primary number system, the practical issues of any duplication are non-existent.
> Apart from the duplication.

Practical issues include "spoofing" etc. Not an issue. And, I suspect
the layout rules and typical glyphs are such that you could
differentiate between these two. I can't judge that without having seen
the proposal. And I don't like to jump to conclusions.
>> Mayan scholars and encoding experts may later decide that a duplication isn't necessary and re-use these "modern representations" as part of the encoding for the ancient system. But that's neither here nor there as far as the use case presented by Jameson is concerned.
> Frankly this is all moot, as I don't believe any National Bodies are going to support this in SC2.

Again, pre-judging this before the evidence is in, seems a poor way to
run this circus. And pretty biased because the countries in question
happen to not be SC2 members.

Received on Thu Aug 23 2012 - 18:39:19 CDT

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