Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Marking tones in conlangs

From:Jean-François Colson <fa597525@...>
Date:Saturday, February 11, 2006, 1:59
MessageOn Tuesday, February 07, 2006 6:08 PM CET, Joseph B. wrote:

> I'm curious to know how others here mark tones in any tonal conlangs they have created.
Să̖x Sus (Sacxnq Sus or Sacx9 Sus2) is my tonal language which has its own writing system: Kı̥ı̗̑́t Sus (Kjiitqm Sus or Kjiit4 Sus2). In this script, the syllables are written down in square blocks but the position of the vowel in the block depends on its "quality": - if the vowel sign is in the bottom half of the block, the vowel is oral and short, - if the vowel sign is in the top half of the block, the vowel is nasal and short, - if the vowel sign is in the right half of the block, the vowel is oral and long, - if the vowel sign is in the left half of the block, the vowel is nasal and long. There are 9 points of articulation for the vowels, which makes a total of 36 different vowels since all the vowels can be short or long and oral or nasal. There are 9 different tones: 3 level tones and 6 contour tones. However in the Kı̥ı̗̑́t Sus (Kjiit4 Sus2) script the 3 level tones are considered as contour tones. In the three transcription systems I've devised, the tones can be represented by diacritics (to understand the system, consider the 3 tone levels represented by heights on the line of writing), by one or two letters after the syllable (m = high, n = mid, q = low) or by a number from 1 to 9. The 9 tones are: - high tone (high to high): dot above, mm or m, 1; - mid tone (mid to mid): not marked in the diacritics system, nn, n or nothing, 2; - low tone (low to low): dot below, qq or q, 3; - rising tone (low to high): acute below and acute above (imagine a line going from bottom to top, only broken by the letter), qm, 4; - falling tone (high to low): grave above and grave below, mq, 5; - high rising tone (mid to high): acute above, nm, 6; - high falling tone (high to mid): grave above, mn, 7; - low rising tone (low to mid): acute below, qn, 8; - low falling tone (mid to low): grave below, nq, 9; In the diacritics system, I use the letters ı (dotless i, since a dot above a vowel means a high tone), ɵ (barred o), u, e, ǝ (turned e), o, ɛ (open e), a, ɔ (open o) for the nine short oral vowels. Short nasal vowels are written with a breve, long oral vowels, with a turned breve and long nasal vowels, with a tilde which I consider as a turned breve followed by a breve. The tone diacritics are added above these three diacritics and/or below the letter, just as in the word "Kı̥ı̗̑́t" hereabove. A limited number of diphtongs and triphtongs is used. In these the weak vowels, which can be only ı (dotless i) or u, are marked with a ring below. In the two ASCII systems, I use the letters i, y, u, ei, ay, ou, e, a, o for the nine short oral vowels. Nasal vowels are written with a following c and long vowels, by doubling the (first) vowel letter. The tones are written with one or two letters or a digit after the final consonant. And the weak vowels are written with the letters j and w. I'd like to use another system but 4 diacritics I'd need have not yet been implemented in Unicode. In this system, the tones would be written with the following diacritics: - high tone: acute, - mid tone: macron, - low tone: grave, - rising tone: caron (= grave-acute, low to high), - falling tone: circumflex (= acute-grave, high to low), - high rising tone: macron-acute (mid to high, U+1DC4(*)), - high falling tone: acute-macron (high to mid, U+1DC7(*)), - low rising tone: grave-macron (low to mid, U+1DC5(*)), - low falling tone: macron-grave (mid to low, U+1DC6(*)). (*) These four diacritics have not yet been approved by the Unicode consortium (they're not yet at, but they are in, page 20. Does someone have information about their status? Are there fonts with those combining diacritics encoded in the PUA?