--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...>
> Richard Wordingham wrote:
> >
> > --- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "suzmccarth" <suzmccarth@...>

> > Are we overlooking another type of phonemically organised script,
> > pointed abjad? At a general level, an abugida seems simply to be
> > abjad with the optimisation that one particular vowel (originally
> > commonest, obviously) is not marked.

> A pointed abjad is an alphabet. (Unless you want to follow Bright's
> _formal_ criterion that the smallness of the vowel markers is what's
> really important -- then I suppose it's an alphasyllabary.)

> > Perhaps the critical thing about the most abugidas is that the
> > marks' positions are usually scattered about the consonant. How
> > the set of positions affect the cognitive processes?

> No, the thing about all abugidas is the inherent vowel.

> The positioning of the marks is a historical accident.

> > I'm not sure that general Indic scripts are vulnerable to becoming
> > syllabaries. Tamil has the ability because it has abandoned
> > conjuncts and discarded about 70% of the orginal consonants.

I think the educationalists will tell us that the placement is a very
significant accident. Would Tamil be any less of a neosyllabary if
pulli indicated /a/ and the base form the syllable final consonant?
I rather suspect not. You can argue that Cree is an abugida because
the West(?) Cree finals are reduced forms of the a-forms, and
therefore /a/ is the inherent vowel. A minor detail! An Old Tamil
form of Brahmi was not an abugida. The inherent vowel and conjuncts
are the resilient shared, derived characteristics of the Brahmi
family, but they are not preserved everywhere. (Thai has completely
shed conjuncts, but a strictly limited repertoire survives in Lao.)

Some of the insular SE Asian scripts have also shed conjuncts, but
that may be because they serve no purpose if aksharas cease to
straddle syllable boundaries.