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R: Conorthography (phonology)

From:Mangiat <mangiat@...>
Date:Thursday, December 7, 2000, 16:41
OK, I've waited too much... now I'll tell you what I've decided about
vowels. You'll probably remember that I explained that the traditional
spelling is not particularly consistent on this matter. An exemple is the
sentence I had shown you: 'the lake Como is a beautiful lake' is rendered as
'ul lagh de Comm l'è un bell laagh', /Ul lak de kOm lE mbEl la:k/ where the
second laagh (lake) is written with two <a> because in the latter case the
/a/ is pronounced longer than in the former.

I have done a little phonological research (mainly listening to my granda's
speech : ), and I've discovered that vowels can have a short/long
distinction when: 1- they are stressed and 2- they are word-final (or in
monosyllabic words); for istance: laagh /la:k/ (lake), uduur /u'du:r/
(smell). I have noticed that vowel allow a lenghtening when it is: 1- from a
pR (proto Romance) open syllable: caluur /ka'lu:r/ < pR CALORE ; 2- when it
is a /e/ sound (as opposed to /E/): verd /vert/ (green) < VIRDE, while verd
/vErt/ (to open, he opens) < APERIRE and vert /vErt/ (opened, adj.) <

So: stressed final vowels which allow lenghtening *and* come down from pR
open syllables will be generally written double.

There are vowels which are from pR open syllables (generally ending in a
nasal) andd do not allow lenghtening: can /kaN/ (dog) < CANE, pan /paN/
(bread) < PANE, fümm /fym/ (smoke) < FUMU; ben /beN/ (well) < BENE is a
particular case, since it can be lenghtened, but only when used as

The lack of distinction between /e/ and /E/ in vowels that come from closed
syllables can be problematic in a few cases (as in the exemple I gave above,
verd), and could perhaps be solved using grave and acute accents; but these
cases are really few.

So, I've done it.

Now I can show you what a wonderful system I've made up : )

I've taken a part of a poem written by Collina, the greatest poet my dialect
has had, and I'll give you his original version with his orthography and one
written using my proposal. It doesn't look very different (as I did *not*
want it to look different), but, at least, I've got rid of the
inconsistencies. The original:

Oh, bei seer del mes de lüj,
d'un estaa de tanti ann fa!...
Sü la strada, che la büj,
gh'è scià  'l caar, ch'è 'dree a sbrufà.

L'è de fèer, e pütüraa
tütt de griis, ma pien de smagg;
e davanti al gh'à tacaa
un asnin, che'l và quagg quagg,

rassegnaa, cun 'na gran flèma...
A cassèta gh'è sü'n omm,
e de fiaanch, visin a un stèma,
gh'è scrivüü: 'Citaa de Comm'.

My version:

O, bej seer del mees de lüj,
de una estaa de tanti ann fa!...
Sü la strada, che la büj,
ga è scià ul carr, che è dree a sbrufà.

L'è de ferr, e pütüraa
tütt de griis, ma pien de smagg;
e davanti al ga à tacaa
un asnin, che al và quagg quagg,

rassegnaa, cunt 'na gran flema...
a casseta ga è sü un omm,
e de fianch, visin a un stema,
ga è scrivüü: 'Citaa de Comm'.

In Italian (for you Romance languages' students):

Oh, belle sere del mese di luglio,
di una estate di tanti anni fa!...
Sulla strada, che bolle,
c'è il carro, che sta sbuffando.

E' di ferro, e pitturato
tutto grigio, ma pieno di macchie;
e davanti ha attaccato
un asinello, che va piano piano,

rassegnato, con grande flemma...
a cassetta c'è un uomo,
e di fianco, vicino ad uno stemma,
c'è scritto: 'Città di Como'.


I wrote:

> Hi guys! > > I'm trying to renew the spellng of my dialect, the dialect of Como, > Galloitalic group of Romance languges. There is today a semi-official > spelling of the vernacular, as established about 30 yrs ago by a local > folkloristic and cultural association (la Famiglia Comasca) which yearly > publishes some books and a notorious calendar which every 'veer Cumasch'
> at home. This spelling is based on some thoughts published by a poet, P. > Collina, in a booklet which criticized the traditional spelling used in > Milan, which was rather irrational, because its aim was to represent the > sound of the lombard tongue with a italian-looking orthography. Collina > proposed a spelling based on the spoken word. The problem is that this > system is not consistent everywhere (especially in the rendering of vowels > and final consonants) and the same word can be written in two different
> in the same phrase. An exemple? The sentence 'the lake Como is a beautiful > lake' is rendered as 'ul lagh de Comm l'è un bell laagh', /Ul lak de kOm
> mbEl la:k/ where the second laagh (lake) is written with two <a> because
> the latter case the /a/ is pronounced longer than in the former. You'll > notice that such a system is rather difficult to learn, because there are > vowels, as well, which do not behave as such: tacch /takk/ (heel), ie,
> never be lenghtened to *taacch; ben /beN/ (good), even if it undergoes the > process, will always be written as ben. You'll notice that such a system
> to be quite irregular. > > My aim is here uniform the spelling. But to understand my proposal is > necessary an analysis of the phonetic system of the dialect. > > PHONOLOGY > (Kirsh. IPA) > > _Consonants_ > > lab dnt alv vel > stops p b t d k g > frics f v s z S > affrics tS dZ > ts dz > nasals m n n^ > liquid l > vibrant r > approx w j > > _Vowels_ > > high i y u > mid e Y > E O > low a > > Some considerations: > > I have considered the pronounciation used in Como town and its > surroundings... going on the lake would mean meet vowels mixed up, and I > don't want to describe all the changes and considerate them in this brief > survey... it'd mean something as find an uniform English spelling : ) > As in many Northern dialects (not only Galloitalic: this is an areal > feature) there are not 'double' consonants (geminates) within the word; > there are two vowels the Italian tongue ignores (/y/ and /Y/); there is no > /l^/ sound as in Italian 'aglio' /al^o/, completely replaced by /j/ (aj > /aj/). Interestingly the dialect of Como lacks the sound /o/. > > Allophones: > > _Consonants_ > > 1) Voiced consonants in final position are always devoiced. This had
> been noticed by Collina in his dissertation about the traditional
> and, even if he introduced this element in his reform, he is not always > consisten on the matter, generating some confusion especially in the > derivation of feminine adjectives: there are, indeed, couplets as
> (old), while a more rational orthography would give vegg/vègia. > > 2) /v/ in intervocalic position, if derived from Latin /b/, is rarely > pronounced (80% no, 20%yes), while if derived from Latin /p/ it is
> pronounced, but it may not: al vureva /al vure.a/ (he wanted) pR VOLEBA > generating a hiatus; cavèj /ka'vEj/ ( pR CAPILLU. There are some > words with a stable form (as cavèj always pronounced /ka'vEj/), but there > are a lot with alternate forms, such as imperfect tense's > endings -evi, -evat, -eva etc. (how is this called? I remember someone > mentioned this phenomenon some weeks ago speaking about English
> > 3) /s/ in a cluster with a voiced consonant is pronounced as /z/ (spelass > /spe'las/, but sbajà /zba'ja/) > > 4) /s/ in a cluster with an unvoiced consonant is pronounced in a mid way > between /S/ and /s./. > > _Vowels_ > > 1) The vowel /E/ in unstressed syllables becomes /e/, as it happens in > Common Italian (Tuscanian): bell /bEl/ (beautiful) belee /be'le/ (beauty, > beautiful) > > 2) The dialect of my town, as I have already said, lacks /o/. This causes > some inconveniences. Common Italian (Tuscanian), indeed, replaces /O/ with > /o/ in unstressed syllables. Here /O/ in unstressed syllsbles becomes /u/. > Thus we have mi odi /mi 'Odi/ (I hate) and udià /u'dja/ (to hate). This
> the next allophonic variation were intended as irregularities by some > grammarians, but they are extremely regular. Unfortunately they didn't
> a phonologist nor a > conlanger to analyse the speech : ) > > 3) The vowel /Y/ has an allophone /u/ in unstressed syllables: mi möri /mi > 'mYri/ (I die) and murì /mu'ri/ (to die); ögg /YdZ/ (eye), ugiaa /u'dZa:/ > (glasses). Locatelli's vocabular lists a word, möröö, which seems not to > undergo the process... but this same word sounds particularly strange to
> > > ORTHOGRAPHY > > And now let's come to the funny part : ) > > _Consonants_ > > I've decided to retain here the original system, which is strongly Italian > based. The dialect is strongly innovative and there is no need (as in > Sardinian) to mark /k/ with <k>, when /k/ has generally become /tS/ also
> clusters: ciav /tSaf/ pR CLAVE (key). So I've retained the Italian scheme: > > /k/ and /g/ are translitterated with <c> and <g> when before /a/ /o/ /u/
> and /y/ and with <ch> and <gh> when before /E/ /e/ and /i/. > > /tS/ and /dZ/ are translitterated with <ci> and <gi> when before /a/ /o/
> /Y/ and /y/ and with <c> and <g> when before /E/ /e/ and /i/. > > /p/, /b/, /t/ and /d/ are obviously translitterated as <p>, <b>, <t> and
> . > > /f/ and /v/ as <f> and <v>. Even if /v/ is not always pronounced > intervocalically, I've decided to write it always. Moreover, there are a > couple of words in which the /v/ from a pR *p is nontheless deleted > everywhere: pR PAUPERU > povar /pO:r/, generally translitterated as
> is a good exemple. > > /m/, /n/ and /n^/ as <m>, <n> and <gn>, as they are in Italian. > > /l/ and /r/ as <l> and <r>; nothing special, here : ) > > /j/ is written <j> when intervocalic or word finally; <i> in diphthongues. > /w/ is always written <u>. > > /S/ is translitterated with <sci> when before /a/ /o/ /u/ /Y/ and /y/ and > with <sc> when before /E/ /e/ and /i/. > > /s/ is rendered as <s> unless it is in intervocalic position, where it's > written <ss>. > > /z/ is found only in intervocalic position and in clusters with voiced > consonants; it's always rendered as <s>. > > The problems come with /ts/ and /dz/. They're not allophones: panza
> and ranza /randza/ show this alternance. Locatelli, in his Vocabulary and
> his 'Piccola Grammatica del Dialetto Comasco' decided to write /ts/ with
> and /dz/ with <z acute> (the Polish letter), whereas he used <s> for /s/
> <s acute> for /z/. The inconvenient is that this system, a very good one, > uses two letters no typewriter here around used to have and which
> lack in every normal computer. My idea is this: > > /ts/ rendered as <zz> when intervocalic (as we used <ss> for intervocalic > /s/) and as <tz> if in a cluster. > /dz/ rendered as <z> everywhere. > > OK, next time the vowels. Tell me what ya think. > > Luca >