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Re: Fw: New Orthography

> >From: George Hart <ghart@socrates.berkeley.edu>

> >Subject: New Orthography
> >
> >Just received Hal's latest on new vs. old.  Hal, the pre-1917 Russian
> >script is far more sensible than the older Tamil orthography (lai, etc.),
> >yet there is not one font or typewriter I have seen that uses it -- except
> >perhaps for some highly specialized ones. 

George, when I studied Old Church Slavonic (which I did when I was still a
student in Slavic Linguistics) it was imperative that we use the
orthography in use for that language, and not for modern Russian.  We also
had to become familiar with glagolitic, and if anyone were to want to
study those mss. they had to know that script.  Similarly if you want to
study hand-written mss. in German written even only 100 years ago, you ahd
better become familiar with the German orthographic system found in those
manuscripts.  I'm talking primarily about how we train students to use the
old materials, and how we produce a computer font that will let us archive
materials that aren't written in modern fonts.  It seems to me to be a
serious misrepresentation of the studyof these texts if we don't ever show
a student what they really look like, and since palm-leaf mss. don't lie
around in every library, and aren't available very widely at all, most
people never get to deal with a real one.  I'm opposed as well to all
these puja-type displays of Sangam Tamil on computer screens, which give
the impression that that's all you have to do to "preserve" Tamil:  put it
on a website somewhere.  No pedagogy, no dealing with the real problems,
no dictionary, no grammar, no nothin'.  It's fakery, in my opinion.

If necessary, let's develop a second font for people who cannot
> >live without these old-style ligatures.

I thought that's what I was saying!  And anyway, I'm not the one who can't
live without these things; I don't deal with old mss. at all, but I can
tell you that the preparation I did get for reading Old Tamil (in modern
editions of kuruntokai etc.) didn't prepare me at all for reading real
actual older material. I was shocked when I saw my first inscription, and
couldn't read it.  And I'll bet I'm not the only one who wouldn't be
able to read a real palm-leaf ms. if my life depended on it.  


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