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responses, replies, and rebuttals

From:Samuel Rivier <samuelriv@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 3, 2001, 20:35
Hi guys-I thought this group was dormant until I
FINALLY started getting digests from yahoo.
Anyway, the following is a collection of two cents (so
about 20 cents
all together) from the past 5 digests-- enjoy!

First of all, have you guys ever heard of Unifon?
Well, a quick summary is that it is the worst attempt
at spelling reform I have ever seen.

Also, I believe it was Wilde (correct me if I'm wrong)
who said called French and English spelling
"atrocities." I have studied French and found that
spelling is far more phonetic than in English. I found
it very easy to write in, even to transcribe new words
that I hear. Whether that applies to most English
words I don't know.

In a spelling reform some decisions must be made
(unless you are a great korean dictator trying to
overthrow a failing chinese graphology)
For one, will you change pronounciation? IE simply
assigning each letter or digraph one sound and not
changing spelling?
If not, as I would assume to be the case, then you
must tackle the issue of whether common dipthongs
including /Ai, Oi, Au, dZ, and tS/ would be
represented as mono or digraphs. Sorry but my SAMPA is
a little rusty. And finally you MUST consider whether
to standardize tenses, plurals, etc and effectively
create a creole, because that is an issue that you
will always encounter.

Okay, now I'll give my IMHO ideas for reform.
I love the idea of reverting to Anglo-Saxon; it has so
much linguistic intrigue and appeal.
As for regional accents, I've noticed, having traveled
across Europe, that British English differs only from
American English in that the vowels seem to move one
place more open or closed. They still distinguish
/cat/ from /cot/, but /cæt/ becomes /cat/ (open front
unrounded) and /c6t/ (American "aw" sounds more
central than back to me) to /cOt/

I've noticed, BP Johnson, that you haven't explored
very far into the field of phonetics. The /u/ is pure
(except this too I feel is much more central in
American) and its shorter semi counterpart is of
course w. Since the short glide is very
distinguishable to the English ear, I think that the
semis can stand (including /j/ and /r/ consonantal).
What I've also noticed is the lack of use of a schwa.
This I feel is acceptable in french, since the schwa
is extremely subtle in such words as quatre, repondre,
etre, sensible, impermeable, et cetre (french joke, i
suppose). But in english the schwas are clearly
pronounced, sometimes so much that they become /^/
sounds. Finally, and this is just a little side note,
I think the best sample text that you can use for a
conlang or condialect designed to look like
Anglo-Saxon is the biblical lord's prayer, simply
because translations into old and middle english are
readily available.

Personally, I really do like the idea of taking the
statistically most frequent mono or digraphic symbols
for vowels and using them as universals.

My thoughts on the tensing- does anyone know where I
can find good info on why this happens? I think an
understanding of it would really help anyone trying to
reform english spelling, because it is often
overlooked. Also-the silent e to lengthen vowels is
not limited to english. Albanian uses the cyrillic
schwa (transliterated ë) to lengthen vowels.

Being out of the loop for so long, what is the torch
relay I'm hearing about?

Syllables are very subjective. It depends on how well
you can glide between vowels and how short you can
keep the glidER while holding its sound. Fear does
sound like one syllable in most cases, but world does
not. By the way, the /r/, no matter what its usage, is
a vowel. Same with /L/ (velar lateral). A regular /l/
is questionable since it makes contact with part of
the mouth, but let's not get into that stuff. My point
is that you will always hear the /r/ as a separate
letter, with a few exceptions. /L/ is not heard
separately in /hall/, since the preceding vowel is
back as well, but in /feel/ it is quite clear.

Alright-here's one final thought from a recent
posting: you mentioned with the eastern european style
conlang that none of the characters seemed very
eastern european. Well, in fact they are based on a
roman transcription of the cyrillic alphabet. E
diaresis is in fact a schwa in eastern languages (the
only two I know, however, are albanian and
serbo-croat). Eastern also does use a plain c for ts
(most notoriously used in esperanto). The kh doesn't
exist in albanian or serbo-croat so I don't know about
that. /tS/ does exist, alongside /c/ (palatal stop),
transcribed as "ch" and "q", respectively. Finally
there are some other sounds that you should be aware
of in cyrillic. Frontal Closed Rounded (U diaresis in
germanic) is transcribed "y" (hence the IPA letter),
and /3/ or zh is transcribed ghj (to the best of my
recollection-I know that it is a trigraph of some
sorts). Remember that this is in serbo-croat and
albanian-I'm not sure about other languages.

Samuel Rivier

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Aidan Grey <frterminus@...>