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APA -- Yet another ASCII representation of the IPA

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Tuesday, April 29, 2003, 1:26
I've been developing a new keyboard layout for typing IPA, and the way it's
turning out, it looks like it could be useful as an ASCII-IPA system as
well. I never really liked X-SAMPA, but I used it because it's a
recognizable standard. This new system, which I'm calling APA (for "Azirian
Phonetic Alphabet", though it could also stand for "ASCII Phonetic
Alphabet"), seems like it's generally easier to read than X-SAMPA, and it's
just as easy to convert mechanically to/from IPA (since I developed it as a
method of typing IPA).

Many of the characters are produced with the help of a few general rules.
In general, the keyboard mapping should remind you of the IPA symbol
(unlike some of the arbitrary mappings of X-SAMPA, like "[F] = M WITH HOOK"
or "[_k] = TILDE BELOW"). Since there's a limited set of characters, this
may not always be possible, but that's the general goal. (I can't come up
with anything better than X-SAMPA's [_d] "dental", [_a] "apical", and [_l]
"laminal" diacritics, for instance.)

The first general rule is that turned characters are represented by adding
a backslash. So TURNED R is [r\], and TURNED W is [w\]. Hooks on the top of
letters are added by typing [(], and retroflex hooks by typing [;]. So the
voiced implosives are [b(] [d(] etc., and the retroflex series is [t;] [d;]
[n;] [r;] [s;] [z;] [r\;] [l;]. A stroke through a letter is represented by
adding [+]. Ligatures are represented by typing [)] after a group of two
characters: [ae)], [oe)], [OE)], [lZ)], etc.

Diacritics that go above the letter, and superscripts, are represented by a
two-character code beginning with [^]. The diacritics should look like the
IPA characters they represent. So a ring above a voiceless ENG is typed as
[^o], and the "centralized" diacritic (looks like an umlaut or dieresis) is
typed as [^:]. One problem is that [^x] might represent a MODIFIER LETTER
SMALL X or a COMBINING X ABOVE. But neither of these is very commonly used.
It might be best to use a capital X for the COMBINING X ABOVE.

Diacritics that go below the letter are represented with an underscore. So
the "advanced" diacritic is [_+], and the "non-syllabic" diacritic is [_n]
(from the visual similarity between "n" and the INVERTED BREVE BELOW, plus
the mnemonic of "n" standing for "non-syllabic"). Again, there's a conflict
between the "voiced" diacritic" (which logically should be [_v]), and the
four "tacks" (which ought to be [_<] [_>] [_^] [_v]). One or the other of
those could be represented as [_V].

"Nasalized" and "syllabic" diacritics have single character equivalents [~]
and [=] for convenience.

Since there aren't enough keys on the keyboard even with the capital and
lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation, I double the number of keys
by using the ["] key to produce a modified symbol. In general, the capital
letters are used for the more common symbols, and the modified capital and
lower case letters for less common ones. For the different "r" sounds,
probably the one I use most often is R WITH FISHHOOK. So that gets the [R],
and the two small capital R's are assigned to [r"] and [R"]. Capital [N] is
ENG, since that's what everyone expects it to be (and it's a very
frequently used symbol), while [n"] is N WITH LEFT HOOK and [N"] is SMALL
CAPITAL N. For mnemonic purposes, all the small capital letters that
represent consonants are typed by using the capital letter followed by ["]:
[B"] [G"] [H"] [L"] [N"] [R"].

Tones are represented by numbers [1] - [5] (as separate characters), [^1] -
[^5] (as diacritics). The suprasegmentals are ['] (primary stress), [,]
(secondary stress), [:] (long), [-] (half-long), [^u] (extra-short).

And some of the characters are more or less arbitrary. [6] is RAMS HORN,
and [9] is PHARYNGEAL VOICED FRICATIVE, since there really aren't any keys
on the keyboard that look more similar to the IPA characters. [$] is L WITH
BELT. In some fonts the stroke goes all the way through the dollar sign,
and it looks more like it could be an "l" with an exaggerated belt.

Tentative representation of IPA charts:

Consonants (pulmonic)
bilab. lbdnt. dent.  alv. postalv. retr.  palat. velar  uvul. pharyn. glot.
p  b                 t  d          t; d;  c  j+  k  g   q  G"         ?
   m      m"            n             n;     n"     N      N"
   B"                   r                                  R"
                        R             r;
P  B   f  v   T  D   s  z   S  Z   s; z;  C  j"  x  G   X  r"  h+ 9   h  h(
                     $  lZ)
          v"            r\            r\;    j      w"
                        l             l;     y\     L"

w\     voiceless labial-velar fricative
w      voiced labial-velar approximant
h\     voiced labial-palatal approximant
H"     voiceless epiglottal fricative
9+     voiced epiglottal fricative
?+     epiglottal plosive
c" z"  alveolo-palatal fricatives
l"     alveolar lateral flap
sj)    simultaneous S and x
k^^p   double articulations
t^^s   affricates

*           |      !  ||          #                     clicks
   b(                 d(              j+(    g(    G"(  voiced implosives
p`                 t` s`                  k`            ejectives

Vowels   Front     Central    Back
Close    i  y       i+ u+     m\ u
              I  Y          U
Close-mid   e  o"     e" o+   6  o
Open-mid       E  oe)  E\ O"  v\ O
                ae)      a\
Open              a  OE)      A  A\

'      primary stress
,      secondary stress
:      long
-      half-long
^u     extra-short
.      syllable break
|"     minor (foot) group
||"    major (intonation) group
__     linking (absence of a break)
5 ^5   extra high
4 ^4   high
3 ^3   mid
2 ^2   low
1 ^1   extra low
> downstep
< upstep 24 ^2^4 rising 42 ^4^2 falling << global rise
>> global fall
diacritics _o voiceless _: breathy voiced _d dental _v voiced _~ creaky voiced _a apical ^h aspirated _m linguolabial _l laminal _) more rounded ^w labialized ~ nasalized _( less rounded ^j palatalized ^n nasal release _+ advanced ^G velarized ^l lateral release _- retracted ^9 pharyngealized 7 no audible release ^: centralized ~" velarized or pharyngealized ^X mid-centralized _^ raised = syllabic _V lowered _n non-syllabic _< advanced tongue root ^r rhoticity _> retracted tongue root


Herman Miller <hmiller@...>