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LINGUIST List 18.601

Thu Feb 22 2007

Confs: Writing Systems/USA

Editor for this issue: Jeremy Taylor <jeremylinguistlist.org>


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        1.    Richard Sproat, Scripts, Non-scripts and (Pseudo)decipherment


Message 1: Scripts, Non-scripts and (Pseudo)decipherment
Date: 22-Feb-2007
From: Richard Sproat <rwsuiuc.edu>
Subject: Scripts, Non-scripts and (Pseudo)decipherment


Scripts, Non-scripts and (Pseudo)decipherment

Date: 11-Jul-2007 - 11-Jul-2007
Location: Stanford, CA, USA
Contact: Richard Sproat
Contact Email: rwsuiuc.edu
Meeting URL: http://compling.ai.uiuc.edu/2007Workshop/

Linguistic Field(s): Writing Systems

Meeting Description:

The purpose of this workshop is to bring together researchers with a variety of
backgrounds including archaeology/epigraphy, comparative history, Indology and
computational linguistics, with a common interest in scripts and writing
systems. We want to address the following questions, with reference to concrete
examples:

-How do you know when you have a writing system?
-How do you know when you have a decipherment?

Synopsis

Hardly a month goes by where there is not an announcement of a new
archaeological discovery that claims to show evidence of a previously unknown
form of writing. Often the find will be a piece of pottery with a few ambiguous
scratch marks on it, but sometimes more elaborate pieces are found, such as the
recently announced tablets from Jiroft. Obviously the first question that must
be asked of such finds is whether they are genuine, but once one gets beyond
this initial due diligence there are two issues that must be addressed.

The first issue is whether it is even writing. Writing is a conventionalized set
of marks used to record language, and not every symbology, no matter how
complex, is writing.

Once it is established that the system must probably have been writing the next
question is whether it can be deciphered, and what counts as a real
decipherment. Some corpora, including Easter Island rongorongo, the Phaistos
disk, and Indus Valley inscriptions have seen many claimed decipherments, most
of which seem hardly likely to be verified.

The purpose of this workshop is to bring together researchers with a variety of
backgrounds including archaeology/epigraphy, comparative history, Indology and
computational linguistics, with a common interest in scripts and writing
systems. We want to address the following questions, with reference to concrete
examples:

-How do you know when you have a writing system?
-How do you know when you have a decipherment?

Participants
Organizers

-Richard Sproat, University of Illinois
-Steve Farmer, Comparative History

Invited Participants

-Jacob Dahl, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
-Kevin Knight, Information Sciences Institute, USC
-Asko Parpola, University of Helsinki
-Gerald Penn, University of Toronto
-Michael Witzel, Harvard University
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