Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Syriac Vowels

Last time I posted on Syriac I was asking myself about Syriac vowels. The vowels in the Eastern and Western versions of Syriac are quite different. I had actually assumed that they would be reflected in different fonts. I was surprised when I found out they they are encoded separately. I have no idea if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

It seems to me that it would create two separate encodings for the same word and more difficulties for searching. Someone please tell me this is not so. I also suppose that there was some good reason that this was done. I'll be keeping an eye open for some discussion of this if it ever comes up.

The same effect occurs in Cree. Here are the Eastern Finals in the top row and the Western Finals below. They are also encoded separately.

Thanks to Omniglot for these images. I also see that Omniglot has a Cree text on this page, which represents Cree as I have seen it written. There are no points other than the mid-dot and Western Finals. It is a fast fluent way to write, close to shorthand, as each spoken syllable is represented by a simple stroke on paper and the final vowels are a brief tick. That was how it was originally used.

Well, I digress. This is enough for tonight since neither of these scripts are searcable on the internet yet. I wait to see what happens. Google is an established English way of life now, but for some scripts it is still a very log way off.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm unable to find the original Syriac Unicode proposal online, but from the relevant section of the Unicode standard it seems the rationale for encoding the two sets of vowel points separately was that West Syriac texts sometimes mixed the two systems.

East Syriac texts exclusively employ the dotted system, whereas West Syriac texts (especially later ones and in modern times) employ a mixture of the two systems. ... The so-called Greek vowels may be used above or below letters. As West Syriac texts employ a mixture of the Greek and dotted systems, both versions are accounted forhere.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Tim,

That is great research. There is no such reason in Cree that I can think of.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:46 PM  
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10:11 PM  

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