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Re: Tone Romanization: Opinions Sought

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, October 3, 2004, 6:31
On Friday, October 1, 2004, at 04:49 , Roger Mills wrote:

> David Peterson wrote: > >> As I said in an earlier post, I'm developing a tone language....(snip).. >> .. >> but >> I've been pretty much forced into using exponents for tone. The >> reason is that I really don't like the Pinyin convention of putting >> a full-sized number after the word,
Pinyin does _not_ do this. It uses diacritics on the vowels. The use of numbers is "ASCII Pinyin" email convention for those unable to read real Pinyin in Unicode.
>> e.g., Looks >> too monolinear to me. This is why I decided on exponents. >> (Well, that combined with the fact that using any system of >> diacritics proved impossible.)
Exponents are, of course, what the old Wade-Giles system used. [snip]
> From a professional, descriptive and aesthetic POV, superscript numbers > would be best;
"aesthetic POV" is very subjective. Personally I thought the superscript numbers (exponents) of Wade-Giles quite ugly.
> but that would present problems for the casual reader, who > might not know, or might tend to forget, the number=tone correlations. > (Just > as I, for ex., have no idea how "zhong1guo2" should be read.)
That also.
> Also, of > course, superscripts are so easy to do in HTML, though cumbersome in > normal > typing.
Yep. In typing they are likely to finish up as ordinary numbers just as in "ASCII Pinyin" which David dislikes. ================================================= On Friday, October 1, 2004, at 05:33 , John Cowan wrote: [snip]
> I wouldn't call what you describe above "the Pinyin convention" -
Indeed not - it's quite incorrect.
> I > think that the *real* Pinyin convention is better since the tone is > marked directly on the vowel, rather than at the end of the syllable, > and even indicates the tone contour!
Yes it does indeed. For those who can read it, compare real Pinyin zhōngguó (where the first o has a macron & the second o has an acute accent) with the "ASCIIfied Pinyin" zhong1guo2 which Roger gave above.
> The Gua\spi convention is to use a mark like / or \ or = or - *before* > the syllable, which gives you advance warning of what's coming.
Yes, it's also the system used by Mario Pei in "The World's Chief Languages" (London, 1949). He uses the familiar Wade-Giles transcription but instead of those little 'index numbers', he uses symbols in front of each syllable. IMO it works very well. For example, our "ASCIIfied Pinyin" zhong1guo2 is written: -chung/kuo ============================================== On Friday, October 1, 2004, at 08:10 , Benct Philip Jonsson wrote: [snip]
> Actually I prefer the / \ ^ _ - system you used on your webpage, > since you don't have to think in English to make them work, > only I would put the diacritics (other than the hyphen, maybe) > *before* the syllable.
I agree on both points. Anything indicating the tone ought IMO to come either before or upon the coda so that we know on what tone the coda is pronounced; putting it after is rather like saying "oh, by the way, that should have been said on the 2nd tone [or whatever]" - cf. zhong1guo2 - tone indicated after the codas zhōngguó - tone indicated on top of the codas -zhong/guo - tone indicated before each syllable. (The last is, of course, using Mario Pei's system with the Pinyin transcription. Thinks: that surely is a better ASCIIfication than those pesky numbers :) Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]