Re: Standaridized variation sequences for the Desert alphabet?

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:45:15 -0700
On 3/25/2017 3:15 PM, David Starner wrote:
On Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 9:17 AM Michael Everson <> wrote:
And we *can* distinguish i and j in that Latin text, because we have separate characters encoded for it. And we *have* encoded many other Latin ligature-based letters and sigla of various kinds for the representation of medieval European texts. Indeed, that’s just a stronger argument for distinguishing the ligature-based letters for Deseret, I think.

And I'd argue that a good theoretical model of the Latin script makes ä, ꞛ and aͤ the same character, distinguished only by the font.

The latter is patent nonsense, because ä and aͤ are even less related to each other than "i" and "j"; never mind the fact that their forms are both based on the letter "a". Encoding and font choice should be seen as separate.

The priority in encoding has to be with allowing distinctions in modern texts, or distinctions that matter to modern users of historic writing systems. Beyond that, theoretical analysis of typographical evolution can give some interesting insight, but I would be in the camp that does not accord them a status as primary rationale for encoding decisions.

Thus, critical need for contrasting use of the glyph distinctions would have to be established before it makes sense to discuss this further.

I see no principled objection to having a font choice result in a noticeable or structural glyph variation for only a few elements of an alphabet. We have handle-a vs. bowl-a as well as hook-g vs. loop-g in Latin, and fonts routinely select one or the other. (It is only for usage outside normal text that the distinction between these forms matters).

While the Deseret forms are motivated by their pronunciation, I'm not necessarily convinced that the distinction has any practical significance that is in any way different than similar differences in derivation (e.g. for long s-s or long-s-z for German esszett).

In fact, it would seem that if a Deseret text was encoded in one of the two systems, changing to a different font would have the attractive property of preserving the content of the text (while not preserving the appearance). This, in a nutshell, is the criterion for making something a font difference vs. an encoding distinction.


This is complicated by combining characters mostly identified by glyph, and the fact that while ä and aͤ may be the same character across time, there are people wanting to distinguish them in the same text today, and in both cases the theoretical falls to the practical. In this case, there are no combining character issues and there's nobody needing to use the two forms in the same text.

Received on Sun Mar 26 2017 - 10:45:40 CDT

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