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Re: Diacritics

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  • R A Brown
    ... Of course there was! That s why the complicated system of pointing to denote vowels and other features was developed. There was a need for the
    Message 1 of 45 , Dec 1, 2010
      On 01/12/2010 01:53, Charlie wrote:
      > --- In conlang@yahoogroups.com, "J. 'Mach'
      > Wust"<j_mach_wust@...> wrote:
      >>
      >> My point is that there is a correlation between scripts
      >> and scriptures in modern Western and Middle Eastern
      >> societies, but there wasn't in ancient times.
      >
      > Is there no correlation between the Hebrew scriptures and
      > the Aramaic/Hebrew alphabets,

      Of course there was! That's why the complicated system of
      'pointing' to denote vowels and other features was
      developed. There was a need for the scriptures to be read
      correctly, but also the view was that the very letters in
      which those scriptures were written should not be changed,
      i.e. you can't add extra letters for vowels etc when the
      cannon is fixed.

      > the Zend-avesta and the
      > Pahlavi script, the Vedas and the Devanagari alphabet?

      I am very certain that this is so.

      But even closer to home are the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer.

      Before saying more, I will digress on just one point. Some
      recent posts on Vietnamese seem to have missed the point. I
      said in my original email that the acute, grave & circumflex
      accents were originally invented by the Alexandrian
      grammarians to denote differences in pitch; I have opined
      more than once that the use of diacritics to denote prosodic
      or suprasegmantal features is IMO their "proper" use (tho I
      have conceded since that some more typographically distinct
      way of doing this is desirable).

      What I object to is the piling up of diacritics on one
      character; that's what we find in Vietnamese. But we find
      it also in the conventional printing of ancient Greek. On
      initial vowels (or the second vowel of a diphthong/digraph)
      we may find both an accent and a breathing, e.g.
      ἂ ἂ ἃ ἄ ἅ ἆ ἇ

      So how did that come about?

      In 403 BCE the Athenians voted to abandon their own version
      of the alphabet and adopt the eastern Ionian one (which
      remains the official Greek alphabet until the present day).
      The advantage was that vowel distinctions were more clearly
      shown (they now had seven symbols instead of five); but the
      downside was that there was no symbol for /h/ - not a
      problem to the Ionian since they "dropped their aitches" :)

      The other thing that happened is that during the 5th century
      BCE the Homeric texts had become standardized and the
      Athenian cannon became the accepted one.

      Now, as I have observed before, the Greek diacritics were
      devised in the first place to ensure the correct
      pronunciation of the Homeric texts. But the texts
      themselves could not be altered, i.e. you couldn't go
      inserting a new letter for /h/! Any marks to indicate
      correct reading had to go above or below the letter. Sound
      familiar? Ain't that exactly the same problem that
      confronted the Masoretes and others who wanted to show the
      correct pronunciation of Hebrew? Of course it is.

      The familiar 'breathings' were developed to show whether
      there was an initial /h/ or not.

      Thus, to maintain that there was no correlation between
      sacred text (and the texts of the Iliad and Odyssey were
      sacred to the ancients) and script in ancient times is
      demonstrably false.
      --------------------------------------------

      On 30/11/2010 21:46, J. 'Mach' Wust wrote:
      [snip]
      >
      > We have the
      > Latin script in catholic regions, the Cyrillic script in
      > Slavic-orthodox regions, the Arabic script in Muslim
      > regions.

      Yes - no one AFAIK has disputed that. Indeed, it would be
      foolish to do so.

      But what I do dispute is that this has inhibited the
      development of extra letters. Indeed, it clearly has not if
      one bothers to look at the Arabic based scripts of Farsi,
      Urdu and other languages that are/were written in an Arabic
      devised alphabet.

      I know of no evidence that the scriptures restricted those
      using the Roman alphabet to just 23 letters. In fact, I
      think it is pretty clear that it did not. Thorn, for
      example, had a long use in English (during those centuries
      when Catholicism was the established religion in England!) -
      what killed it of as a separate letter was the advent of
      printing in the 15th century.

      --
      Ray
      ==================================
      http://www.carolandray.plus.com
      ==================================
      "Ein Kopf, der auf seine eigene Kosten denkt,
      wird immer Eingriffe in die Sprache thun."
      [J.G. Hamann, 1760]
      "A mind that thinks at its own expense
      will always interfere with language".
    • R A Brown
      ... True. ... I thought I understood the original argument - but I have become confused now. Besides - this particular sub-thread seems to have strayed a long
      Message 45 of 45 , Dec 1, 2010
        On 02/12/2010 02:28, Patrick Dunn wrote:
        > At one time it had. But Biblical Aramaic is now written
        > in the same script as Hebrew. Look at the Book of Daniel
        > some time in the original: part in Hebrew, part in
        > Aramaic, all in the same script. At least, in my B. H.
        > it is.

        True.

        > I don't know what this proves or fails to prove in re:
        > the original argument, since I don't really *understand*
        > the original argument.

        I thought I understood the original argument - but I have
        become confused now.

        Besides - this particular sub-thread seems to have strayed a
        long way from the topic "diacritics" - it seems now to be
        dealing with various Semitic scripts ;)

        ------------------------------------------------
        On 02/12/2010 04:36, Adam Walker wrote:
        > It still has. The only place I am aware of Hebrew square
        > being used to write Aramaic in in the Tanakh in those few
        > passages that are not in Hebrew. Aramaic is still spoken
        > in daily life, still in use as a liturgical language and
        > written in its own script.

        Also true - and also a long way from diacritics ;)

        ------------------------------------------------
        On 01/12/2010 19:00, J. 'Mach' Wust wrote:
        [snip]
        > I think you have not really understood my point.

        Probably not - I'm quite confused now.

        I thought you had maintained that:
        1. the Latin scriptures (i.e. the Vulgate) had inhibited the
        development of extra letters in the Roman alphabet.
        2. There had been no previous example of scriptures
        affecting the development of a script.

        I disagree with both premises and have explained why. The
        only connexion with the original thread that I can see is
        that the desire not to change the text of Homer but to show
        how it should be read led to the Alexandrians developing a
        system of diacritic.

        As for the Roman alphabet, there is at least one notable
        example of resistance to adding extra letters about three
        centuries before the Vulgate had been authorized, and there
        are early post-Vulgate examples of national versions of the
        Roman alphabet adding extra letters.

        As for diacritics, they abound and thrive in various
        national versions of the Roman alphabet.

        I doesn't seem we're going to agree, so I don't see any
        point in dragging this out - unless, of course, we now
        switch to discussing how Aramaic is written :)

        --
        Ray
        ==================================
        http://www.carolandray.plus.com
        ==================================
        "Ein Kopf, der auf seine eigene Kosten denkt,
        wird immer Eingriffe in die Sprache thun."
        [J.G. Hamann, 1760]
        "A mind that thinks at its own expense
        will always interfere with language".
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