--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...>
> Richard Wordingham wrote:
> > 1. Classificatory terms should reflect stages in evolutionary
> > development.
> No. The historical sequence became evident _after_ I identified the
> difference between syllabaries and abugidas.

Became evident to whom? This historical sequence has been known for a
very long time. What information are you adding to Fevrier and
Cohen? I have only noticed the change of label. I notice that the
inherent 'a' vowel was discussed in Philippe Berger so I don't think
that was unknown.

If this sequence was not known the Indic scripts would not have been
named neosyllabaries, syllabaries which came after alphabetic

The difference between the two kinds of scripts was also recognized
by everyone who said syllabic alphabets, alphabet-syllabaires. Just
because it wasn't presented properly in generalist textbooks doesn't
mean that it wasn't known by people working predominantly in scripts.

The important thing is to recognize that there is a similarity
between these systems. In fact, once the CV units have been arranged
together the unit can become more opaque over time. An abjad or
alphabet cannot become more opaque because they are intrinsically
segmental. An Indic script can since it has a syllabic unit.

In Cree the units are not divisible and in Tamil they are out of
sequence. Since the consonants and vowels cannot be separated out of
the visible graph _in order of sound production_ they will remain
less accessible without explicit training. I believe Sproat quotes
Faber on this.

Sproat even adds the nescessity for linearity in this process. So the
consonants and vowels must be in sequence, divisible and in line to
qualify as a segmental system. Otherwise some type of syllabic system
must be considered. (The literature may often use the term 'abugida'
but any serious paper also mentions 'alphasyllabary' to identify what
script features are present, analytic elements organized in syllabic

Right now on the internet I have found writing system classification
more garbled than ever before, does that disqualify these terms? Here
are some examples.

1. Some sites quote three alphabetic types, alphabets, abjads and

2. Some say the scripts are in historic sequence from syllabary,
abugida, abjad to alphabet.

3. Some say syllabary, abugida, abjad and alphabet is a logographic
to phonographic continuum.

Sad but true. Do I have a different solution for absurdity? I doubt
there is much hope but ...

(I don't want to mess around with anyone's word or invent words of my

I want to say there are syllabic systems and segmental systems. You
yourself know the importance of the syllable vs the segment to judge
from the title of one of your articles. This is the _fundamental_
basis of writing system classification - surely that is what you were

Some syllabic systems are entirely non-divisible and opaque because
they were not created out of segments, but as a whole out of
originally meaningful syllabograms (logosyllobagrams?).

Other syllabic systems are constructed out of segmental elements
organized in syllabic units by the inventors, using knowledge of the
previously discovered segment, and once created are either more or
less divisible or transparent.

The scripts which are less divisible, transparent or linear would
normally be taught by syllable charts. Hence the Amharic syllabary,
the Tamil syllabary, the Cree syllabary, the Korean syllabary ... in
the other sense of the word, of course.

Why not say that there are two different stages of syllabic-type
scripts, one before discovery of the segment and one after? That
would finally get rid of the historic sequence mess which keeps
getting passed around. It would focus on what is actually fundamental
the syllable vs the segment.