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Minza spelling reform

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Thursday, January 26, 2006, 1:51
I've made some minor changes to the spelling of Minza. There's also a
relatively new page there with general notes on Minza vocabulary and how
words are borrowed (which has been up for a while in preliminary form,
but I don't think I've announced it yet). Among other things it
describes the system of word components (luakí) and how they are used in
borrowing words from Chinese and Japanese.

The goal of the spelling reform is to keep things from getting too
complicated; I changed the letter ö to ø so that the rare accented
version would have a convenient single character representation (ǿ, as
opposed to ö́), and I replaced the digraphs with accented characters (ň
in place of ng, ǧ in place of gh). I also simplified the phonology by
removing /w/ and /j/, replacing them in some cases with the vowels /u/
and /i/, and in other cases with /v/ and /ž/ (pronounced [Z]).

One thing I'm not sure about is whether it's a good thing to use "ǧ" (g
with wedge/caron) to represent [G]. I think it's nice that most of the
accented consonants (except l-slash, ł) use the same diacritic (a
wedge), but on the web page "ǧ" shows up in a different font than the
rest of the text since it's not in the default Times New Roman font (and
I suspect not in most readers' default web fonts either). And I don't
even know what sounds are typically written with g-wedge, so I don't
know how unusual it would be to use it to represent [G]. I was
considering "ğ" (g-breve) for a while, but I liked the symmetry of using
the wedge for everything.

Another thing that's still in flux is the marking of stress. When stress
is marked, it's simply an acute accent on the stressed vowel, but the
thing I'm uncertain about is when to mark it. The easiest to read would
be to always mark stress, but that would result in most words having
accent marks. There aren't any simple rules for stress placement; it
depends on the word. But the tendency is to stress the vowel of a
monosyllabic root, or the next to last vowel of a root with more than
one syllable. A few suffixes override the stress on the main root. And
now that "j" has been merged with "i", I need to distinguish between
"íe" (with the stress on the "i") and "ié" (with the stress on the "e").
I could just go without marking stress, except in cases where it makes a
phonemic difference and in names.


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>