Standaridized variation sequences for the Desert alphabet?

Michael Everson everson at
Fri Mar 24 11:11:53 CDT 2017

On 23 Mar 2017, at 22:03, David Starner <prosfilaes at> wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 6:54 AM Michael Everson <everson at> wrote:
>> Again: The source of 1855 EW and OI uses *different* letters than the 1859 EW and OI do. This wasn’t accidental. It’s not hard to puzzle out or to see. This isn’t random or even systematic natural development of handwriting styles. It was a principled revision done on the basis of phonetic analysis. English diphthongs EW and OI were first represented by ligatures representing [ɪuː] and [ɒɪ], and then later by ligatures representing [ɪʊ] and [ɔːɪ].
> Sutterlin was created by Ludwig Sütterlin in 1915. There's lots of principled revision going on all the time in the world's scripts that doesn't get recorded by Unicode, and this goes double for young constructed scripts, where people are playing around with them.

What’s your point? Sütterlin didn’t invent new letters. Both n and u look a lot alike, and so the latter was marked with a breve, but in the 15th-century Cornish manuscript I was working with at the British Library last week both n and u look a lot alike. This has nothing to do with the origin or identity of two sets of letters used for diphthongs in Deseret. 

>> Indeed I would say to John Jenkins and Ken Beesley that the richness of the history of the Deseret alphabet would be impoverished by treating the 1859 letters as identical to the 1855 letters.
> And yet the richness of the history of the Latin alphabet is not impoverished by treating (a monocase Latin cursive) as identical to part of the modern Latin-script alphabet, which besides casing, has split the i/j and u/v on the basis of phonetic analysis?

Your question has, again, nothing to do with the matter in hand. While it is true that the shapes of the Latin letters in that manuscript differ from the shapes which we use today, their identity as letters (and their Old Italic and Phoenician forerunners) is not in question. Inscriptional Latin from that same period is still quite familiar to us. That i and j are distinguished in that handwritten text isn’t surprising. Centuries later in Europe the j graph was extremely common in numbers (as in xiij ’13’). It’s true that it wasn’t until 1524 that i and j were specifically distinguished *as* separate letters in Italy; this distinction was formally made in English in 1633. But this isn’t analogous to the ligature-based letters used for diphthongs in Deseret.

And we *can* distinguish i and j in that Latin text, because we have separate characters encoded for it. And we *have* encoded many other Latin ligature-based letters and sigla of various kinds for the representation of medieval European texts. Indeed, that’s just a stronger argument for distinguishing the ligature-based letters for Deseret, I think.

Michael Everson

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