Unicode Consortium puts “Rovas” script standardization on the agenda

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Great news for Hungarians around the world: after 14 years of uncertainty the Székely-Hungarian “Rovas” script and two additional members of the script family might become a standardized script due to the international technical standardization process that begins at the upcoming UTC conference on February 6, 2012 in Mountain View, California and the WG2 (ISO) conference starting on February 13.

One of the basic requirements of the usage of modern “Rovas” script in digital media is to obtain a standardized character set (Universal Character Set) corresponding to international standardization rules laid down by the Unicode Consortium and ISO. The Székely-Hungarian “Rovas” script still hasn't been approved by the Unicode Consortium unlike other writing systems that long died out or if they are still in use, they display artificial and fanciful characters.

The only obstacle that slows the standardization process is the lack of consensus among users regarding the various letter sets. At the moment, there are three major standard proposals exist, which are gradually updated and polished. The proposals are in public domain and available to everyone for review.

1. The Hungarian Standards Association draft N4183

The draft has been submitted by the only official organization that is competent enough to review the latest scientific evidence (archaeology, linguistics, historical linguistics, turkology, digital paleography, etc) regarding the evolution of the “Rovas” script. Revisers of the draft are all recognized experts of their fields. Besides establishing the historical fidelity of the Székely-Hungarian “Rovas” script, the Khazar runic script and the various ancient writing systems, the goal of the standardization process is to promote the “Rovas” writing system in everyday use. The draft is the outcome of a thorough consultation process refined in a series of conferences (Live Runic, 2009. Gödöllő). The draft of the “Rovas” Foundation has been supported by the majority of users and developers.

2. Michael Everson (USA) and André Szabolcs Szelp (Austria) individual draft N3697

The authors of this proposal promote the standardization of the “Rovas” script under the terms of "Hungarian runes" (Germanic writing family standards), and more recently "old Hungarian writing", which is based on twenties century conditions of the character set. This proposal rejects the idea of historical continuity and the organic development of the “Rovas” writing system used primarily in the Carpathian Basin. This draft proposal doesn't recognize older system than the Nikolsburg alphabet (1483). This proposal has no user support other than a few individuals. The authors don't support “Rovas” script's contemporary use and have no intention to promote it. The authors continually attacking the Hungarian Standards Institution draft proposal. Unfortunately, their "anti-runic" culture war manifest itself in deleting “Rovas” related posts from the English Wikipedia and questioning the competency of Hungarian scholars on the subject. (Wikipedia model: Cuba and North Korea )

3. Gábor Bakonyi (Budapest) individual draft N3526

This draft is based on the mostly discarded Turkic origin theory. The draft proposes a character set that lacks even the short and long vowels, which makes it unsuitable to accurately denote the Hungarian language.

The voice of “Rovas” script users

The standardization of our national writing system is now within reach; this however, is not a self-driven processes. The future of the Székely-Hungarian “Rovas” script depends on the active support all Hungarians, which can ensure that finally, the only true version of the draft proposal will be adopted.

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