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Re: Digraphic letters (was: Dutch "ij")

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 23, 2002, 6:45
On Monday, July 22, 2002, at 01:22 , bnathyuw wrote:

> of course the vowel harmony system in turkish confuses > matters. > > i and I are both high unrounded vowels distinguished > only in that one appears in words with front harmony > and one in words with back harmony.
That's when they appear in suffixes, but.....
> thus the only minimal pairs will happen when i or I > occurs in the first syllable of a word
Not necessarily the first syllable - not all root words are monosyllabic. But, yes, they are distinct phonemes (and thus also graphemes) when in the root of a word.
> ( i seem to > remember that even when foreign words seem to > contravene this rule the pronunciation tends to fall > into line ).
Not always - but that's another complication.
> the treatment of u and u: also fits in here, i think.
You are correct.
> so turkish _could_, theoretically be written with an > alphabet that only explicitly marks the first vowel of > a word, and then only distiguished which harmony group > each subsequent vowel is a member of ( {e,a} or > [i,I,u,U:}, o and o: not harmonising ).
If we substitute 'only explicitly marks vowels in root words' for 'only explicitly marks the first vowel of a word', then I agree entirely. Indeed, I made use of this principle in the various drafts of BrSc ('briefscript' - if you want more info, search the Conlang archives). The phonemic status of vowels in Turkish suffixes is debatable; Firth's prosodic analysis seems to me a better approach in this case.
> i think i've just muddied the waters. sorry. anyway, > that's my haporth.
Only as far as _phonemes_ are concerned - and in any case, it is not _you_ who have muddied the waters, rather it is the Turkish language :) Not that I think that is a bad thing; indeed, I rather like Turkish. It is a salutary reminder IMO that the phonemic theory is just that: a _theory_. It can be useful, but it does not, I think, explain everything. But, back to graphemes. Turkish could well be written as you say. It was once written in the Arabic script. Some Turkic langs are, I believe, written in Cyrillic; and Old Turkish inscriptions have been found written in an alphabet called by some the 'Siberian script' (also called, misleadingly IMO 'Turkish Runes', since they have nothing to do with the runes of the various Germanic peoples). Graphemes are to do with the actual written symbols and they may or may not correspond well with the phonemes. When deciding on graphemes in the modern Turkish Roman alphabet then it matters not whether the {i} and {I} (i.e. dotted & undotted i) are used in the word root or in the suffixes. What John say holds true:
> --- John Cowan <jcowan@...> wrote: > >> Thus the question of whether the dot on the "i" in >> Turkish is a separate >> grapheme is resolved by Occam's Razor: we gain >> nothing by abstracting >> it away, since either there are two graphemes "i" >> and dotless-i, or >> two graphemes dotless-i and dot. Better then to >> stick to the overt >> level and recognize i and dotless-i.
Of course what might muddy the waters are Turkish {â}, {û} and {î}, especially since the last character is, in theory, dotted-i with a circumflex, not the undotted-i with circumflex, even tho when the circumflex is stuck the dotted-i loses its dot ;) Ray.