Re: Transliterating ancient scripts [was: ASCII and Unicode lifespan]

From: Dean Snyder (
Date: Mon May 23 2005 - 12:48:03 CDT

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    Tom Emerson wrote at 10:07 AM on Monday, May 23, 2005:

    >Dean Snyder writes:
    >> Transliteration is lossy.
    >Not necessarily.

    I do not confine lossiness only to the correspondence between the
    abstract characters of one script and those of another - obviously that
    can be done losslessly. What I also include is GLYPHIC correspondence,
    which almost tautologically, transliteration loses. And, since glyphic
    correspondence is important for some activities (see below), we encode

    >Transcription is by definitionlossy. However, it is
    >possible to develop a transliteration scheme that is not lossy: the
    >Buckwalter transliteration for Arabic is not lossy for contemporary
    >Arabic orthography (though it is not suitable for Qur'anic.)

    Buckwalter's transliteration of Arabic <
    transliteration.htm> is, as are all transliterations, lossy. You cannot
    tell, for example, from this transliteration that Arabic r & z are
    differentiated only by a tiny dot. THAT is pertinent information in many


    Dean A. Snyder

    Assistant Research Scholar
    Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
    Computer Science Department
    Whiting School of Engineering
    218C New Engineering Building
    3400 North Charles Street
    Johns Hopkins University
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218

    office: 410 516-6850
    cell: 717 817-4897

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