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Punctuation in Tech and Big Six

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Friday, August 27, 1999, 16:24
To start with, a gif of a table of the (pending) Unicode arrangement of the
Ethiopic fidel (syllabry) for Ge'ez, Amharic and Tigrinya, including
traditional numerals and punctuation marks, along with additional syllables
for Oromo, Chaha etc. as well as new punctuations and icons for
Ethiopia-Eritrea and Africa.

Some more info on Tech...

Traditional Ethiopic writing, used for Tech, uses certain arrangements of
dots for punctuation.  Ge'ez used:

two dots vertically stacked: word divider
four dots in a square: full stop (period)
two vertical dots with line above: comma
two vertical dots with lines above and below: semicolon
two vertical dots with line between: colon
two vertical dots with line to right: preface colon
three dots vertically stacked: question mark
seven dots arranged in a hex pattern: paragraph mark

These are all used in Tech, but some other newer symbols are employed:

X with four dots in between arms of X: annotation, footnote
two dots above syllable: geminated (fortis) consonant
inverted exclamation mark: sarcasm mark
(our regular exclamation mark is also used)
double left guillamets (<<): open quotation
double right guillamets (>>): close quotation
period (.): numeric digit divider (three places or 8000s)
question mark (?): used more for dubitative (doubtful)

Oh yeah, and another convention used in Tech: a thin line through a part of
a series of syllables (all CV groups of a particular consonant), which is
used (in the real world) in certain Cushitic languages, indicate a voiceless
nasal/liquid consonant in Tech, and are usually used for the L, M, R and N
series.  This occurs in addition to an overbar which indicate retroflexion,
whereas they mark palatization in "real world" Ethiopian languages.
(Consonant base symbols in the 29-letter South Arabian/Sabaean abjad which
were dropped upon arrival in Menelik's Sheba-Cush, have been returned, with
some snazzy new Ge'ez-style designs.  These are used for the "palatal"
consonants, while some new conventions are used for velar /N/ and /L/, the
laterally-released dental affricates, and so much more...)


On to Big Six.  Where Tech has a complex array of punctuation and
diacriticalism, Big Six has a mere four punctuation marks: a full
stop/period (in Segul, written as a small bottom-aligned circle; in Latin,
our period), open and close quotes/emphatic text (in Segul, upper left and
lower right corner brackets; in Latin, left and right parentheses, carats,
brackets or braces: ( ) < > [ ] { }), and a comma, which also functions as a
colon or semicolon (in Segul, a small bottom-aligned oblique mark \; in
Latin, our comma).

Why only four?  Because first of all, questions and exclamations are marked
by sentence-final particles.  Also, Chinese/Japanese/Korean typically have
these four in their mininum character sets.

And a final note I forgot to mention: Big Six uses our Arabo-Western decimal
numeral system, with a comma dividing the numbers left and right of our
decimal, and full stop marks for each three-digit group left of the decimal
point.  Tech, on the other hand, uses the vigintesimal numerical system
inherited from Coptic, with a zero indicated by an oval with a slash (an
oval alone is 4), or a simple dot.  One more thing: numerals may or may not
be written with the barlines above and below which indicate numbers, but in
more formal applications they should be included.


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