Re: Back to Coptic (was: Demystifying the Politburo)

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Fri Jul 08 2005 - 05:58:05 CDT

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    At 04:56 -0500 2005-07-08, wrote:

    >Well, to me it is no more Greek than Latin or Coptic whatever its origin.

    We had a different view.

    >It is a universal symbol used in many scripts (also Latin), it
    >should not be decomposed and analyzed if it shares the same meaning,
    >the same appearance, the same name, the same typographical behaviour
    >and the same origin (a KHI and a RO, after all these Coptic letters
    >are also Greek in ancestry).

    You are inconsistent here. You thanked me for disunifying COPTIC
    LETTER KHI from GREEK LETTER CHI, and for disunifying COPTIC LETTER
    RO from GREEK LETTER RHO. Previously, people argued that they shared
    the same meaning, the same appearance, the same name, the same
    typographical behaviour and the same origin. It took many years of
    struggle to get the committees to accept the disunification. In point
    of fact, CHI RHO and COPTIC SYMBOL KHI RO don't share the same
    appearance, which is one of the factors behing the disunification in
    the first place.

    >I find this disunification abusive.

    You are mistaken. You are, however, free to choose to put either CHI
    RHO or COPTIC SYMBOL KHI RO in your texts. The International Society
    for Coptic Studies recommends the use of COPTIC SYMBOL KHI RO.

    >Analogies rarely completely work, but should we find as many NUMERO symbols
    >U+2116 as there are scripts using this symbol (Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, etc.)?

    That analogy doesn't work. The Coptic glyph for KHI RO is pretty much
    unsuitable for most Latin and Greek contexts.

    >And I'm willing to accept this is the consensus although I disagree
    >with (or do not understand, in meeker terms) the reasoning behind
    >the disunification of this kind of universal symbol.

    It was a question of consistency.

    > > Regarding the other Coptic question, I'm inclined to think that
    >> U+2CEA might be presented either with or without the bar, and that
    >> this is a glyph design decision. Personally, I would include both
    >> forms in a font, but would probably make the form with the bar the
    >> default glyph simply because it seems much more common. The issue
    >> is a little clouded by the separate encoding of the abbreviation
    >> bar, but there is at least a partial parallel in the European
    >> ordinals, which may be written with or without a bar beneath them.
    >I would tend to agree with you: change the reference glyph as it
    >may not be unencoded.

    We're not going to do that. It would introduce inconsistency in
    representation of Coptic text.

    >In its current form in the chart it is just a ligature like fi or
    >ffi in Latin and should thus most probably not have been included.

    In its current form it is a symbol for a word which may be
    represented in a number of ways, as I indicated yesterday: JO(E)IS,
    J_S_, JAEIS. JAIS, C_S_, CO_S_, CS__, O_S_

    It may be the case that symbol is never found without an abbreviation
    bar. That does not mean that the abbreviation bar should be built
    into it.

    >I suspect it was included because the proposers did not know or did
    >not want to depend on newer technologies like OpenType which could
    >easily compose this abbreviation in all its forms (ligated or not,
    >flattened or not, with or without abbreviation bar) given the basic
    >Coptic letters and the abbreviation bar.

    That isn't true. We knew perfectly well. SHIMA SIMA may not be an
    obligatory ligature, and would be the only ligature in the whole set.

    >Note that Mr Everson did say the opposite: one has to manually add
    >the bar over this ligature to obtain the Lord abbreviation and thus
    >it is not a matter of variant glyphs (one with, the other without
    >the bar). Although, if one has to add the bar, it don't see what
    >the U+2ECA ligature could mean by itself but again Lord! I have
    >never seen the CS ligated in any other context.

    It may not "mean" anything without the bar. It is nevertheless an
    element of the writing system. The encoding model we chose asks the
    user to type the bar manually in all instances where an abbreviation
    bar is desired. That is consistent behaviour, which is better for
    Coptic text encoding.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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