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Johanna Laakso jolaakso at
Sat Oct 23 12:48:17 UTC 1999

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Date: Sat, 23 Oct 1999 21:13:47 +0900 (JST)
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Subject: Summary: Altsyrjaenische Schrift
Cc: kmatsum at

Dear Uralists!

I asked a couple of days ago whether there is a standard English
designation of << altsyrja"nische Schrift / drevnepermskaja azbuka >>.

I am grateful to the following people who took pains to enlighten me:

Pekka Sammallahti
Tiit-Rein Viitso
Cornelius Hasselblatt
Michael Everson
Eugene Helimski
Tapani Salminen
Vladimir Napolskikh

One thing is absolutely certain: no established single term exists for
this script in English.

I am proofreading my short Japanese-language article about this
alphabet and the editor considers it obligatory to provide (an) English
name(s) for it.

It seems that the "best" possible solution is to make no choice at all
and give all three major variants:

       Old Permic (Zyrian, Komi) script.

By the way, don't supporters of "Komi" and "Zyrian" alternatives want to
say anything about this alphabet entering into the "UNICODE" world as
"Old Permic script", I wonder?


Kazuto Matsumura
Univ. of Tokyo
Writing from Kyoto


Sen t艙tyy olla Old Zyrian/Komi alphabet (vrt. Old Norse, Old English).
Mulle tundub, et standard puudub. Kusimus on mis on oigeim. Ainult Old on
kindel. Edasi on selge, et mitte permi, ega permikomi, vaid kas komi voi
surja(komi). Aga surjat kirjutab igauks inglise keeles nagu tahab:
Zyryene  (oooo!), Zyryen  (ooo!), Ziryen, Zyrien, Zyrian... Nii et lihtsaim
on Old Komi.
Robin Baker uses "Old Permian writing" , "Old Permian translations" etc.
so may-be Old Permian alphabet? Cf. FUF 45 (1983), pp.82-106
I call it the Old Permic script. Please see -- we would really like
some comments.
In my opinion, OLD ZYRYEN SCRIPT is more appropriate than the (partly)
misleading OLD PERMIAN (PERMIC) SCRIPT. The Russian name "permskaja azbuka"
stems from the times when the Zyryens were referred to as "perm'
vychegodskaja". The English ethnonymic tradition does not possess such
reminiscences and must not reproduce them.
Please note that the drevnepermskaja azbuka was, inasmuch we know, not a
Permian one. It was applied only for Komi and maybe only for Zyrian Komi.
Hence one should avoid Lytkin's and Baker's terms. I feel that Old Komi
were the best solution in that case because the English orthography has
caused too many problems for anyone who has ever tried to write about
non-Permyak Komi, cf. e.g. Zyryene ‾ Zyryen ‾ Ziryene ‾Ziryen ‾ Zyrian etc.
Paras ehdotus on mielest"ani Tiit-Reinon: Old Komi script.
Komilaisetkin tykk"a"av"at.
Most of the literature I have seen seems to prefer Old Permic. The
principle book is Lytkin's _Drevnepermskij jazyk_ (Moskva 1952). Stipa
wrote an article "Der Ursprung der permischen Schrift" in 1961, and in his
Sprachforschung book he also calls it "Permisch Alphabet". It's attributed
to Stefan of Perm. I can't find my reference just now, but I am pretty sure
that the Estonian name is vanapermi- something.
from the Russian point of view the most appropriable form should be
Old Permian Alphabeth

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