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BrSc & ancient Egyptian

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, April 27, 2002, 13:29
There are other things going around in my mind during this current
re-thinking of BrSc* besides Lin and Dirk's "alphabetic syllabary".  One
is, in fact, ancient Egyptian which, like the syllabary, didn't express
vowels (and, sadly, their are now lost probably for ever; so we don't
really know how pronounce the language), except that one symbol is
traditionally transcribed {i}.

It occurred to me, reading transliterated texts, that they achieved much
potential brevity or compactness.  Of course in their case, the Egyptians
counteracted this by using hieroglyphics which sort of slowed down the
writing a bit (yes, I do know they developed 'hieratic' and demotic scripts
which speeded things up  :)

They also made considerable use of unpronounced, but
written,'determinatives', i.e. symbols which gave a broad idea of the
meaning of the word.  This was done to disambiguate words whose consonant
patterns were the same, but which had different meanings and, most
probably, different vocalizations.  This, of course, is not what's wanted
in a briefscript!

But, consider these examples.  I cannot, of course, use the traditional
symbols in email restricted by the contrainsts of ASCII. Therefore:
h with dot beneath is rendered as         {H}
h with breve-sign beneath is rendered as  {x}
h with bar (macron) beneath is rendered   {X}
k with dot beneath is rendered            {q}

The sound [j] is rendered {j} in German practice & [y] in AngloAmerican
practice.  I have kept {y} since:
t with dot beneath is rendered    {c}
d with dot beneath is rendered    {j}

In the above, my {q}, {c} and {j} were probably pronounced [q], [c] and
[J\], hence the symbols I've chosen.

'aleph' - probably the glottal plosive - is traditionally transcribed by a
symbol that resembles _3_.

di.n=i wj3=f r-Xnw wrt
I caused that he proceed inside the great ship

n jws=i s n Hry-tp=f
I did not denounce a man to his superiors

iw qrs.n=i i3w Hbs.n=i H3y
I buried the old [and] I clothed the naked

ink njs iqr jd m r=f
I was an astute individual who spoke with his own mouth

ink mry b it=f Hsy n mwt=f mrrw snw=f snwt=f im3 n 3bt=f
I was one beloved of his father, praised of his mother, beloved of his
siblings, and one gracious to his household.

There is, maybe, a 'Linness' to the Egyptian transcriptions.  The dot, dash
and 'equals-sign' are not, however, Lin cements! They are morpheme
dividers, but I haven't quite worked out why the three different symbols
are used (I must learn the language properly sometime).

What I'm thinking is that by using some form like Dirk's syllabary, I could
achieve similar compactness; and I can use 'separation' symbols both as
separators, as above, and to disambiguate by denoting where a word has
front, central or back vowels.  I think I need at least 6 separators; one
set of three to distinguish a lexical morpheme from its string of one
letter functional morphemes, and another set of three to separate lexical
morphemes in compound words.

Thoughts and comments welcome  :)




John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>