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Re: Phonetics

From:Joseph Fatula <joefatula@...>
Date:Thursday, April 5, 2007, 7:48
Mark J. Reed wrote:
> I think you are overcomplicating what is really a simple concept. > > Forget Unicode. When English-speakers say the alphabet has 26 > letters, what > are they counting? Not glyphs. Certainly not bit patterns. Those are > abstract characters. > > You are, I think, interpreting "glyph" too broadly. In Unicode terms, a > glyph is A SINGLE PARTICULAR GRAPHICAL REPRESENTATION OF A CHARACTER. > There > are zillions of glyphs for Latin small letter a, but it is still one > character. If you put a macron over it, that's still one character, even > though there are different Unicode code points you could use to construct > it. > > At the bottom are the bits - that's the encoding. > Decode the bits and you get a sequence of Unicode code points (or "scalar > values'). > Parse the combining characters, surrogate characters, etc. and you get a > sequence of "absters". > If you're rendering the text visually, you next pick a font, rendering > algorithm, etc. and apply it to the absters, and you get glyphs. > > >
So would you say that Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, and Coptic "A" are the same abstract character or three different ones? Latin and Futhark "R"? Aramaic and Latin "L"? I think the answer to these questions might go a long way towards defining the terms we're using here. Then once we have an answer to that, what about Latin and Cherokee "M"? They have the same shape, but totally different sound values, one being /m/, the other being /lu/, but historically they originate from the same character. Actually, Cherokee throws in a different problem. The Cherokee alphabet includes all but 4 of the characters of the Roman alphabet, then adds a bunch of characters unique to Cherokee. One could describe Icelandic (for example) in the same way, using most of the Latin characters, then adding some unique to that language, pronouncing nearly all of the characters different than say, English. What objective criteria should we use to call Cherokee a separate alphabet, while keeping Icelandic under the Roman alphabet? I think they're clearly separate, I'm just wondering what other people think should be the distinguishing criteria. ____________________________________________________________ GET FREE 5GB ONLINE STORAGE - Safely store your documents, photos and music online! Visit to find out more!


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>