Re: [ANE-2] Reading revolutions
- vide infra
Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
>From: Robert M Whiting <whiting@...>Citation? He has very, very little to say about "Type III," except that it
>Sent: Sun, October 3, 2010 7:02:00 AM
>Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Reading revolutions
>On Sat, 2 Oct 2010, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
>> If he claims that abugidas are syllabaries, then he is _not_ "clinging
>> to Gelb," who insisted they are alphabets.
>No, you've got it exactly backwards. Gelb always insisted that abjads
>were indistinct syllabaries (i.e. syllabaries where each symbol stood for
>a consonant plus any vowel) and abugidas were retroversions of the
>indistinct syllabary to a fuller syllabary.
"presents some difficult problems." He seems completely unaware that Indic
scripts can explicitly mark vowellessness and unconcerned (he can't have been
unaware) that Ethiopic can't.
>A main difference betweenToo bad he never came up with any such terms, and I had to invent them in order
>abjads and abugidas was that the abugida had a default vowel associated
>with the consonantal symbol while other vowels had to be marked with an
>appendage to the symbol. Gelb particulary objected to calling abjads
>and abugidas alphabets because in his view an alphabet has independent
>symbols of equal weight for each distinctive sound of the language,
>whether consonatal or vocalic. This is what makes the categories of abjad
>and abugida important for keeping these distinctions clear.
to resolve the factual error of the "Principle of Unidirectional Development."
>Gelb particularly objected to calling abjads consonantal alphabets becauseAnd lumping them together with syllabaries was NOT the solution.
>to him 'consonantal alphabet' was an oxymoron.
> However, whether abjadsSorry, _you_ don't get to say what is and what isn't "part of the definition of
>are consonantal alphabets or indistinct syllabaries is something that
>cannot be determined by internal analysis because from the point of view
>of entropy both will have exactly the same effect on the reader: The
>reader still has to supply all the vocalization (the only possible
>exception might be in how double consonants can be written). Thus abjad
>is an important classification for "consonantal scripts that do not
>indicate vowels". How the scripts do not indicate vowels (i.e., whether
>each symbol represents consonant plus no vowel or consonant plus any
>vowel) is not part of the definition of abjad. In such a case abjad is
>not "based solely on external features" but on the internal feature of not
>indicating the vowels with the writing system.
>In any case, Gelb always considered both abjads and abugidas to haveCitation?
>inherent vowels (either specific or indistinct) associated with each
>symbol and hence were to be considered syalabaries, not alphabets. The
>abugidas were just somewhat more obviously syllabic.
>And while the true alphabet *is* counterintuitive since, as Peter has
>pointed out numerous times, the syllable, not the phoneme, is the natural
>unit of speech perception, Panini was on to the concept of the phoneme in
>the 4th century BC.
>> It's not surprising that the publisher did not send the book to beOne wonders who they asked to referee it before they published it!
>> reviewed by linguists (or by writing systems specialists).ï¿½What is
>> surprising is that they published it -- and simultaneously with
>> Gnanadesikan's quite fine book.
>You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, by you frequently can by
>who is asked to review it.
- Peter - thanks for your insightful responses to what Brian called by 'enigmatic' note.
It is probably time to stop before I get into more trouble.
But just a couple of remarks:
Peter Daniels wrote:
>And a Chinese person tells us that he can _get a general idea of_ a JapanesePrecisely my point: they are not reading the other language, they are absorbing the information in their own.
>newspaper article even though he knows no Japanese. In neither direction are
>they _reading_ in the other language.
As you know various trades achieve this all the time by means of technical symbolism.
In my profession I am frequently required to understand chemical data embedded within a text written in any one of a number of languages with which I am unfamiliar.
It is surprisingly easy to do.
In the case of mathematics even more so. Marshall McLuhan famously stated that the medium is the message: in technical literature symbolism becomes the medium.
>>This carries the implication that humans would have kept looking for something
>>like the alphabet for a long long time had it not emerged when it did.
>Sorry, I cannot fathom this statement. What is "something like the alphabet"
>that could have been "looked for"? Seems like _you're_ suggesting some sort of
>superiority for an alphabet!
Exactly. And why not?
Don't you think it's a little odd that such an idea might appear so out to lunch that an exclamation mark is required?
What if we could design a system which would allow us all to communicate in our own languages and have others anywhere in the world absorb the information in theirs?
Anyway, as I said. Probably time to stop, we're a long way from the ANE now
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