elainekeown wrote:
> Elaine Keown
> Vancouver, B.C.
> Hi,
> I just read some of the summer postings on this word. I'm not sure
> I covered all of them.
> Is 'abjad' an old word, found in medieval Arabic grammatical
> discussions? Or is it a newer word?
> I assume that the original language is Arabic, and that it can be
> most correctly written in Arabic.
> I ask because I am working on an online glossary of terms useful for
> computerizing writing systems, that is, for so-called 'character set
> work.' I have a 400-word bilingual French/English glossary, but I
> need to add a third column for Hebrew equivalents.
> In my list, 'abjad' will probably be the first term.

The Arabic word "abjad" means 'the list of letters in their historical
order, as indicated by their numerical values'.

I introduced it into grammatology in 1987 (Milwakee Symposium, pub.
1992) and 1988 (pub. JAOS 1990) to refer to a writing system comprising
consonants only (prototypically, Phoenician). I chose it because it was
parallel to "alphabet" and to "abugida."

At some point, my words "abjad" and "abugida" were put into the Unicode
glossary, with the lousy definitions that were discussed here this year;
Stephen Roger Fis(c)her used them in his *History of Writing*; Henry
Rogers uses them in his Blackwell textbook *Writing Systems*; and
"abjad" appears in the Smithsonian's coffee table book *Human* (Dorling
Kindersley). I suspect that the anonymous author got it from Unicode,
since it's defined somewhat like its way, and Unicode's entry for
"abugida" didn't give any hint of what it means, so they wouldn't have
any reason for copying it over.

Didn't make it into the 11th Collegiate, though.
Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...