--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Doug Ewell" <dewell@...> wrote:
> Suzanne MCarthy <suzmccarth at yahoo dot com> wrote:
> >> Script typology isn't primarily for "encoders." It's mostly
for (and
> >> by) scholars of writing systems. Modern character coding
systems do
> >> generally try to encode a script according to its inherent
> >> though.
> >
> > So Cree and Tamil have some similarity in the way they are coded?
> In a sense. Cree is encoded as a syllabary, which is what it is,

Yes, I was in Waswanipi, Mistassini, Quebec,and Timmins, Ontario in
the 80's, (lived there) and met the translators who set up the Cree
translation office and wrote the first programs in Quebec. At
first, they went for strict phonemicization in order to round trip
to the roman alphabet. I remember the day they said they had
decided to give up preaspirates. They kept vowel lengtheners for
collation purposes though in Quebec.

In Ontario, the Oji-Cree cultural Centre rejected phonemicization,
standardization, collation etc. etc. (Eventually they made
compromises, but slowly) They use the diacritics to differentiate
homophones, for emphasis, decoration even and other purposes. When I
see a webpage in Cree now I can still tell where it was written and
in which of several dialects (Eastern, Mushkegowuk, Moose,
western). Apparently the feeling in Ontario is that some, a very
few respected elders, have a phonemic way of writing Cree but it is
not for everyone. In Quebec the decision was to standardize and
reform the orthography and become more phonemic.

> Tamil is encoded as an abugida, which is what it is.

Yes, good, Tamil and Cree are different, that makes sense.
> > If encoders think they have a system, why shouldn't those working
> > on, or trying to choose, input methods have a system?
> I didn't say they shouldn't have a system, and I don't think
anyone else
> said so either. Keyboard and input-method design is important and
> deserves a lot of thought.

Good. I think that the typologyfor structure and the typology for
using the script, input, woudl look a little different. There
should be room for discussion about this.

> >> You think the fact that Tamil displays in non-linear sequence
is what
> >> makes it an abugida?
> >
> > No, non-linear sequence somehow distinguishes it from an
> Not true at all:
> * An alphabet has symbols for both consonants and vowels, and all
> mandatory.
> * An abjad is similar, but symbols for most vowels are optional.

> * An abugida has the concept of an inherent vowel, which must be
> explicitly overridden if not present.

I know about the inherent vowel and see its importance in
understanding the structure of the script, I can understand that
this is why Tamil is called an abugida, as long as Cree is not one.
However, the inherent vowel doesn't cause a problem for input. The
non-linearity is a problem. Since all the reordering and reshaping
are very rule driven and make the actual phonemes very abstract, the
ordinary person refers to the set of aksharas - syllables, if I dare
say so. I would most certainly have to disagree and say that an
abjad is processed more like an alphabet and an abugida more like a

I have learned to read and write Cree, Tamil and Hebrew and have
watched others, native speakers, read and write in these languages.
There is something about actually doing it. The reason why a
syllabic IME was invented for Tamil is because some people, not me,
feel that Tamil should have a syllabic IME. Now I want to talk to
other likeminded people about how this would work if it went into
further development, or whether input in order of visual sequence
would be better.

> * A syllabary has a separate symbol for each syllable. The shape
> these symbols may be systematic (Ethiopic) or not (hiragana).

I watch native speakers keyboard Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Tamil,
Punjabi and Hebrew in my classroom so I know what these scripts look
like. But I have a different feel about how they work, an approach
that owes something to cognitive psychology. I think that there
should be room for more than one perspective.

> Notice that linear and non-linear sequence was not mentioned in
> taxonomy. In fact, there's really no reason why an alphabet
> have reordrant letters, though I can't think of such an alphabet
> offhand.

Hmmmm. Teachers think that alphabets segment and sequence in order
and that this is important.


> -Doug Ewell
> Fullerton, California
> http://users.adelphia.net/~dewell/