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Re: Chemehuevi orthography (was: Re: non-English WEB sites)

From:Dirk Elzinga <dirk_elzinga@...>
Date:Friday, April 25, 2003, 23:24
On Friday, April 25, 2003, at 03:39  PM, Peter Clark wrote:

> On Friday 25 April 2003 01:59 pm, Dirk Elzinga wrote: > >> So the orthographic problem is whether to represent these final vowels >> or not. That is, should /aipatsi/ be written <aipats> or <aipatsi>? I >> can see good reasons for doing it either way; I can also see >> drawbacks. >> I'm hoping that the Chemehuevis themselves will settle on a solution >> which makes sense to them. Personally, I lean towards not including >> final vowels, but I'm willing to let them decide. > Two questions: first, are the final vowels ever long? I'm just > curious to see > what the distribution of long vowels are.
Long vowels may be final. When this occurs, the vowel shortens: /ipi:na:/ => [ipi:na] 'beaver' /pavo:/ => [pavo] 'ditch'
> Second, is /1/ ever a final vowel?
All the time; it's a very common final vowel since some of the absolutive suffixes end in /1/: -c1 /pavon?okwi-c1/ 'watermelon' /h1p1ki-c1/ 'hole' /panukwi-c1/ 'stream' -p1 /ampaga-p1/ 'language' /1ga-p1/ 'plant' /kuca-p1/ 'ashes' /pahoora-p1/ 'well' -v1 /asi-v1/ 'rind, peel, skin' /hu?upi-v1/ 'squaw bush' /mo?o-v1/ 'hand' /sagwi-v1/ 'guts, intestines' -mp1 /ija:vi-mp1/ 'grape vine' /opi-mp1/ 'mesquite' etc.
> If /1/ is never a final vowel, then you could settle on a midway > compromise > by marking the final vowel, but with some diacritic[1]. Hence > something like > aipatsî and naro'ô. (I chose the circumflex because it is more visible > over > an "i" than an acute or grave accent[2].) Although I suppose that a > solution > for ü could be made if it ever occurs finally...maybe just use an > accented > character like ú or ù. Too bad that /1/ isn't represented by |y|; then > you > could just use ä ï ö ü ÿ to indicated final vowels. (Just sticking with > latin-1 encoding here.)
Latin-1 is probably not restrictive enough. The target audience for the spelling system is Chemehuevis, who already are literate in English but may not have much education beyond, say, junior high. They may be familiar with Spanish, but not necessarily with its orthography. They are thus likely to reject anything which looks too strange, and I think that any kind of diacritic will qualify as "too strange". So I'm pretty much stuck with ASCII (and <ü>, which for reasons already mentioned, they like for /1/). So I think that the choice really comes down to either representing the vowel in full or not representing it at all. The first method entails remembering a fairly simple rule of final vowel deletion, while the second entails remembering the quality of the final vowels when adding suffixes. Either way, there's something to remember. I did toy with underlining final vowels, but an anecdote from the San Juan Paiutes dissuaded me. I talked with Pam Bunte, a linguist/anthropologist who has worked with the San Juan Paiutes, about the Chemehuevi vowel problem. In San Juan Paiute there are voiceless vowels, whose occurrence is predictable. However, the language committee she worked with wanted to represent the vowels as voiceless when they are pronounced that way. So she showed them the linguistic transcription convention of the under-ring. To her surprise, they liked it, and adopted it for use in the official orthography. However, she said that hardly anyone really uses it, and they seem to get on just fine without it. So it seemed sensible to not differentiate vowels in any way and rely on a few simple spelling rules instead.
> You could also use this system to indicate vowels that shorten: > |tÿmpï| "money, rock" (I'm using |y| for /1/ just to be clear, that's > all) > |tyympä| "mouth" > I don't know if that's too much or not. It would help language > learners know > when a vowel is shortened, but on the other hand it would probably not > be > much more of an advantage for someone with native knowledge of when a > vowel > is shortened. Would it cause confusion to see: > |tÿmpï| "money, rock" > |tympin "my money, my rock"
I don't think it would be any more or less confusing than seeing <tümp> vs <tüümp> and remembering that they are pronounced the same. As with the final silent vowels, it comes down to remembering a simple spelling rule.
> Very interesting, thanks for taking the time to post it.
Thanks for reading it! Dirk -- Dirk Elzinga "I believe that phonology is superior to music. It is more variable and its pecuniary possibilities are far greater." - Erik Satie