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Re: Diphthongs in ASCII (was: CHAT letter names etc)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Thursday, March 4, 2004, 20:15
On Wednesday, March 3, 2004, at 08:52 PM, Christophe Grandsire wrote:

> En réponse à Ray Brown : > > >> Not if they're pronounced as tw syllables, surely? It's a feature known >> as >> hiatus and does occur in natlangs; e.g. French 'maïs' (Br. maize, sweet >> corn; Am. corn) is _disyllabic_. In phonetic transcription [ma'is] would, >> I suppose, be clear enough; but stress is not phonemic in French and the >> phonemic transcription must be /mais/ - but it ain't a diphthong. > > Just use the syllable break mark: /./: /
But that will imply a _phonemic_ contrast with /mais/, which is incorrect in French. The only correct phonemic transcription surely is /mais/.
> >> Yep - but I'm not sure what the tie-bar shows here. > > That we have a single diphtongue rather than two separate vowels.
I know that!! What my example below was trying to show is that it doesn't tell us whether the diphthong is rising or falling. With some it's fairly obvious, e.g. [a_i]. But as I show below, [i_u] is simply ambiguous. And if I'd written the diphthong in some of the old rural south English dialect in 'gate' as /gi_@t/ it might well be assumed to be rising whereas, in fact, it's a _falling_ diphthong. [snip]
> The problem is that not all diphtongues are strictly rising or strictly > falling. IIRC a few weeks ago there was a discussion that Finnish > diphtongues sounded like separate vowels to Italian speakers because > Finnish diphtongues are level, i.e. both vocalic parts have equal weight.
..which must surely beg the question whether they are true diphthongs at all.
> The difference between [a_i] and [a.i] being that one is one syllable and > the second is two
Agreed - and where we have two syllables, both vowels are pronounced. But in such a diphthong, the speaker begins with [a] and then moves _towards_ [i] but usually stops short of reaching it in actual speech where it may be realized as [a_e] or [a_I]; there is, with a true diphthong, no doubt that we have one syllable.
> (and usually [a_i] is shorter than [a.i]).
Yes, if the initial is short. But [a:_i] is not at all unknown in natlangs where, indeed, it may contrast with [a_i]
> My Maggel also features level diphtongues, so the [a_i] notation fits > perfectly. > > >> Which leaves me now wondering what really is the best way of showing >> diphthongs in ASCII? > > It depends on the nature of the diphtongue in the language.
Which is all very well for phonemic transcription, but surely the whole purpose of _phonetic_ transcription is to give a transcription that is unambiguous independent of the phonemic structure of the language. ========================================================================= ========= On Wednesday, March 3, 2004, at 05:26 PM, Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 03, 2004 at 01:44:12PM +0000, Ray Brown wrote:
>> >> To represent "saying" as ['sejIN] is misleading, at least for the >> varieties of English I commonly come across, as the second syllable ain' >> t >> [jIN]. > > Well, you can always mark the syllables explicitly: ['sej.IN].
Yes, that OK in the phonetic transcription, but a phonemically it must be /'sejIN/. Um - I guess it's OK since in the context of English phonotactics it's clear enough.
> Which leaves me now wondering what really is the best way of showing > diphthongs in ASCII? > > Whichever way will be easiest understood by your audience, of course. :)
That's what I'm trying to find out :) ========================================================================= ================ On Wednesday, March 3, 2004, at 02:19 PM, Andreas Johansson wrote: [snip]
> Much no-one here seems to be familiar with this system, but several books > I've > read writes the weaker part of a diphthong as a superscript. Since ^X > denotes > superscript X in JXS, it follows that it can be used for writing > diphthongs > too. Eg, your [iw] vs [ju] can be rendered as [i^u] and [^iu] > respectively in > JXS. Doesn't look distractingly good, but unlike the glide convention it > works > with any vowel sign.
Yes, true - but I agree it doesn't look distractingly good. While [i^u] might be understood by our fellow list members as some eccentric way of showing a diphthong, I not sure [^iu] would be. What would be helpful is to have a symbol which side was the syllabic vowel and which the non-syllabic. I guess we'll just muddle along writing either [ai] or [aj] ad_libitum ;) Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760