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Metrical Stress, Feet, Syllables, Genders, Email Servers etc.

From:Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>
Date:Monday, February 9, 2004, 18:32
As I understand from the reactions to my post about
syllables, English speakers don't consider written
syllables at all, but only the spoken ones.
The French word "langage" is considered as trisyllabic
(lan-ga-ge) in its written form, although we also
normally pronounce "lan-gage" dissyllabic.
There are 3 written vowels, a(n)-a-e, and the 2 last
ones are separated by a consonant, so they cannot
belong to the same syllable.

It's even more puzzling for me to consider that
"language" should be divided into "lang-guage". There
is only one g in language, how could it belong to 2
different syllables ? So maybe phonetically, that
would be right, but in that case, we must agree that
English syllables are a purely phonetic concept, and
that's not at all what I learned at school for French

If you want to write a 'correct' French alexandrin,
for ex, you may write:

Le langage d'hier ou celui de demain

(admitting that there is a dierese on the word 'hier',
which is optional, but usually sounds better in poetry
than the synerese 'hier' as a single syllable)

but a verse like:

Le langag' de demain n'est pas celui d'hier

(where the final e of 'language' would be elided
before a consonant)

would sound awful, except maybe in songs (and even in
a song, I would avoid it in that case: it's simply
ugly. But in common speech, it's all right. Much is
allowed in common speech).

It's true that the 'e muet' rule is less and less
understood nowadays, but anyway there are full wagons
of classical poetry respecting it up till now. This is
only because we entered times of barbary.

Cutting out words into syllables has another use, in
typography: it provides rules for dividing a word at
the end of a line (with a '-'), if you want a part of
it to be rejected on next line:


(permitted, although somehow odd, because only 2
letters would be rejected)

forbidden !

As to translating a written text into phonetic, I also
made a program doing it for French, and I also came to
a 'right' conversion in about 85-90% of the cases. Now
the very problem hides in those 10-15%: if you want to
handle them, you have to write numerous ad hoc rules,
and it makes the program (or let's say better, the
file of rules) terribly more complex.
The 85% can be handled rather easily, the REAL
problems arise with the 15% left.

OK, I forgot that there are 3 genders in English and
that a computer should be referred to as neutral. But
is this really justified ? I conceive a computer like
something intermediar between human and inanimated. So
maybe English should invent a 4th gender for IT.

Yes, I know that Yahoo mail server hates any diacritic
signs. This is painful if we consider that computers
have already been existing for more than 60 years, and
that programs aren't yet able to exchange an 'e
acute'. Well, some are. I only use Yahoo because I
don't want the list posts to get mixed with my
professional and personal emails, and because I can
use Yahoo from any computer connected to the Internet
without patching up any esoteric parameters.
So, I'll try to send French examples without accents,
although it makes my heart ache.

--- Andreas Johansson <andjo@...> wrote:
> > Clearly, French tradition differs from what I'm used > to - syllabifications > like "lan/gua/ge" seem fully absurd to me. Guess > they make more sense in > French, were the silent 'e's actually make > themselves heard sometimes. > > I guess I as a kid would have syllabified (Swedish) > _orange_ as "o-ran-ge", > but today I'd consider that simply wrong (as long as > we're not speaking of > masc sg definite!). > > > Anyway, a > > computer program can rather easily cut any text > into > > syllables, provided you give him the rules > applying > > ^^^ > > Three-gender systems are wonderful, aren't they? :) > > > for the language you consider. It will be easier > than > > translating automatically the same text into > phonetic > > ! (at least for English and French). > > Mark Rosenfelder's written a programme that gets > English pronunciation > basically right 85% or so of the time. > >
Andreas ===== Philippe Caquant "Le langage est source de malentendus." (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Finance: Get your refund fast by filing online.


Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>