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On Tue, 3 Jan 2017 15:44:13 -0800, Jim Thain <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>The ancient Egyptians & Sumerians used similar writing systems to Chinese.
>Does anyone know how they organized things? If they had some sort of system
>for organizing their characters it would (at least for Egyptian) have to
>have been different than stroke order I would imagine.

As far as I know the cuneiform scripts, aside from the late ones like Ugaritic that were modelled on non-cuneiform alphabets or abjads, never had a lexicographic order.  Instead what they had was a canon of teaching texts -- syllabaries, thematic wordlists, homonym and homophone lists, bilingual dictionaries, vel sim. -- which between them were supposed to contain all the signs and sign combinations a scribe might need.  The dictionaries, Akkadian-Sumerian being the principal ones, had some local organising principles like going through multiple uses of the same sign together, or words with the same determinative together, but there was no notion of a global order to the writing system that they followed.  The stroke-based order seen in modern sign lists, first horizontals then diagonals then Winkelhaken then verticals etc., is a modern invention.

In Chinese too there were comparable traditions: you started by learning the Three Character Classic, the Thousand Character Classic, and the Hundred Family Surnames, all of which were supposed to expose you to enough characters to get on with.  Giving an order to all the characters was a later process and one with an initial proliferation of different standards.  Some tried to use the Thousand Character Classic as an ordering, although it wasn't comprehensive.  The radical-based system which eventually reached fixation was that of the Kangxi dictionary; when it was composed basically no two dictionaries used the same radical system.  Also, none of the systems were exactly *good*: they all had various judgment calls regarding which of two plausible analyses the writer liked.  (How 烏 didn't end up under ⿃ in Kangxi is beyond me...)  It's enough of a mess that, even today, the Sinosphere's equivalent of our spelling bees are dictionary lookup bees.

All that said, if in Siye there is a clear formally-distinguished set of syllabic characters, including |CVV| vowel-contracted characters and whatnot, plus a minor residue of logograms (as I seem to remember from the last time you showed it off), I might expect that there would be an order for the phonetic characters, and logograms would be indexed by (some fixed citation) reading.

Alex