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Re: [ANE-2] typing cuneiform

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  • Dean Snyder
    ... My guess is it will be 3 to 4 years before we have cuneiform text input methods as part of Mac and Windows operating systems, with Linuxes coming later.
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 7, 2010
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      Peter T. Daniels wrote at 10:35 PM on Tuesday, July 6, 2010:

      >Maybe your argument will be valid years from now when all those front-end
      >gadgets are in place, but as a rationale for abandoning the century-plus-old
      >order of signs in the standard lists, it doesn't hold water.

      My guess is it will be 3 to 4 years before we have cuneiform text input
      methods as part of Mac and Windows operating systems, with Linuxes
      coming later.


      >I once came across a magnificent web page by Borger blasting the
      decision, and
      >now that I've had to type a couple of charts of signs, I see he's
      >totally right.

      Are you referring to Borger's introduction to the "List of Neo-Assyrian
      Cuneiform Signs: A practical and critical guide to the Unicode blocks" ,
      linked to from here <http://www.sumerisches-glossar.de/downloads.htm>?


      >I also remember huge fights on this question at an AOS or two that you were
      >involved in! But it seems that whenever there are varying views on how
      >to encode ancient scripts in Unicode, the least useful is the one that wins.
      >Coptic is another example.

      Character encoding order is one of the least significant aspects of
      encoding a script, if for no other reason than the fact that oftentimes
      collation sequences simply do not match encoding sequences. Witness,
      e.g., the differing alphabetic ordering for the same umlauted vowels in
      Swedish and German. A-umlaut, or "LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH DIAERESIS"
      as Unicode calls it, sorts alphabetically in German as "AE", i.e., near
      the beginning of the alphabet; but the same character sorts near the end
      of the alphabet in Swedish. Which alphabetic ordering should Unicode
      adopt for its code point sequences, i.e., which tradition should be
      anointed as canonical? What Unicode actually does (for various reasons,
      and ignoring the decomposed forms) is to completely bypass the issue and
      place this character in another block of characters separate from the
      basic Latin block, in the "Latin-1 Supplement" block, at code point 196.
      ("A" is at code point 65.)

      Conflicting and overlapping character ordering issues on computers are
      dealt with by applying algorithms and/or tables to generate appropriate
      collation sequences. Thus, if you set your computer operating system to
      use Swedish localization methods it will do the right thing and you will
      get lists of words sorted in Swedish order, not German order. But
      underneath all text is still being processed and displayed using the
      same, single underlying inventory of Unicode characters.

      The Initiative for Cuneiform Encoding, the group responsible for the
      Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform encoding in Unicode, chose to employ a
      "neutral" character ordering based, within the confines of the Unicode
      character naming restrictions, on the names of the primary signs,
      thereby avoiding the discipline politics and technical limitations
      associated with ordering the signs according to their shapes attested in
      only one of several periods or locales.

      We were fully aware that the names and ordering were not all that useful
      for end users, and that transparent and intuitive software tools would
      be needed to make productive use of the encoding.

      In short, the encoding can be viewed as the foundational component of a
      suite of components all of which must be in place before we can really
      do any productive digital cuneiform text work.


      Dean A. Snyder
      Senior Programmer/Analyst
      Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR)
      Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
      Bayview Research Campus
      333 Cassell Dr, Triad Bldg, Suite 2000
      Baltimore, MD 21224
      cell:717 668-3048 office:410-550-4629
      www.cidr.jhmi.edu
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