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27 August 2015
Unpublished conference/Abstract (Scientific congresses and symposiums)
A shared repository of hieroglyphic signs: The Thot sign-list
Polis, Stéphane; Rosmorduc, Serge
2015 • International Congress of Egyptologists XI


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Keywords :
Sign-list; Hieroglyphs; Encoding; Manuel de Codage; Digital corpus
Abstract :
[en] The principles to be taken into consideration for building a hieroglyphic sign list have been discussed for quite some time (Schenkel 1977), and recently received renewed and additional attention (Meeks 2013, Polis & Rosmorduc 2013). The catalogs of hieroglyphic signs (e.g. Buurman et al. 1988, Grimal et al. 1993), however, did not implement these principles, since their goal was rather to allow for the encoding and rendering (either on paper or on screen) of as many hieroglyphs as possible. As a result, hieroglyphic text editors (Gozzoli 2013) will usually do the trick when one aims at displaying hieroglyphic texts, but in its current state, the Manuel de Codage makes the creation of annotated corpora that include hieroglyphs problematic (Nederhof 2013). In this paper, we do not focus on issues pertaining to the relative positioning of hieroglyphs (Nederhof 2002), but on another — more essential — problem, namely the hieroglyphic sign-list itself. Existing sign-lists suffer from the fact that they are (1) unstructured, (2) unreferenced, and (3) non-described. Based on our experience with respect to the encoding of hieroglyphic spellings in the Ramses corpus (Polis et al. 2013; Polis & Winand 2013), we present a beta version of the Thot sign-list, which has the following features (see the discussion in Polis & Rosmorduc 2013): 1. The sign-list is structured: each hieroglyph of the sign-list belongs to one of the three following categories: grapheme, class and shape (from the more abstract to the more concrete, see also Meeks 2013). 2. Signs are referenced: each sign is accompanied by at least one reference to a publication in which the hieroglyph is used in context. For this purpose, the unpublished lists of hieroglyphic signs compiled by Hornung and Schenkel have been instrumental. We are much grateful to both of them for sharing this material with us and allowing us to use it in this context. 3. Signs are described at two levels: a. The functions that each hieroglyph can fulfill (Polis & Rosmorduc in press), with illustrative examples for each function. b. The salient iconic features of each hieroglyph, based on a controlled vocabulary. Practically, the Thot sign-list is a Wiki, i.e., a web application that allows collaborative modification of its content and structure. Thanks to the Semantic Mediawiki extension, one can create links between any signs sharing a given property. The goal is obviously to allow any Egyptologist to enrich the structured sign-list Thot with new signs, references and descriptions.
Disciplines :
Languages & linguistics
Classical & oriental studies
Author, co-author :
Polis, Stéphane  ;  Université de Liège > Département des sciences de l'antiquité > Egyptologie
Rosmorduc, Serge
Language :
Title :
A shared repository of hieroglyphic signs: The Thot sign-list
Publication date :
27 August 2015
Number of pages :
78 slides
Event name :
International Congress of Egyptologists XI
Event organizer :
International Association of Egyptologists
Event place :
Florence, Italy
Event date :
23-30 August 2015
Audience :
Funders :
F.R.S.-FNRS - Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique


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