II. Let us have three ways or methods of transliterating a text written using the symbols of the syllabary:
The second method has the same parameters as the first one, but every syllabogram can be considered as a complete coda-less syllable, with 0 to 5 possible codas. That is, a syllabogram X can be read as X or X1, X2, X3, X4, X5 (that is up to 6 alliterating syllables) The overall frequency F(non-X) of X representing X1, X2, X3, X4 or X5 is considerably lower than the frequency F(X) of X representing the simplex X. Thus, its value is known.
The third method differs from the first one in that it considers the above-mentioned delimiter-like character as a (non-empty) wild card character representing up to m different consonants. Now, while in the first and second methods, there is a clear delimiter showing word boundaries, as mentioned above, in this method, there is none, because the symbol used for delimiting words in the other two methods is here used just as another sound (a consonant) either in the middle or at the end of a word. Hence, whoever tries to interpret or read the text in this way has to guess where words begin and where they end. The segmentation is thus arbitrary.
More specific examples of all three methods:
- a-me-li-ka | I | bi → a-me-li-ka i bi
- a-me-li-ka | I | bi → a-me-li-ka i(s) bi(g) → (America is big or America, I be! :-) )
- a-me-li-ka | I | bi → a me-li ka-bi(n) bi → (A merry cabin bee etc. ;-) )
Now, how can I quantify which of the three methods leads to more uncertainty, and by how much?
The first one, at least, seems pretty straightforward and leads to minimum uncertainty (in comparison to the latter two). So, my question really is, how can I compare no. 2 and no. 3?
Many thanks for any advice or help!
EDIT: A more specific example then:
Let us have two competing scholars proposing two competing hypotheses.
Both of them have the same text before them, written using the same syllabic script. The two scholar differ, however, as to how the script should be transliterated/read.
1. Scholar X assumes one of the characters marks word boundaries. Scholar Y assumes the very same character is a wild card character that can represent up to 15 different consonants.
2. Scholar X assumes the underlying language is Language X. Scholar Y assumes the underlying language is Language Y (different from X).
3. Scholar X segments the text into words using what he believes are word delimiters, checks the vocabulary of Language X to see if it contains such words. Scholar Y goes through the vocabulary of Language Y to see if they can spot any of the words in the text.
Intuitively, it seems scholar X's method is more rigorous and does not allow too many alternatives. Scholar Y's method, on the other hand, appears to provide so many alternatives that, to me it seems it's almost impossible not to find at least something resembling Language Y.
Intuition aside, are there any ways to (dis)prove that scholar X is more likely to be right than scholar Y?