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Re: Two questions about the IPA and English.

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 10, 2002, 20:36
Tristan wrote:

>In all the diagrams I've seen of where the vowels are pronounced in >English, /V/ seems to be a low (or less-low) central vowel, much closer >to /6/ (or even /A/ or /a/) than /V/. Why, then, is /V/ used to >transcribe this vowel? >
As an adaptation/mnemonic, I suppose, of IPA "inverted l.c. v"
>Why is it that in some things/people proclaiming to use the IPA, >primarily American things/people, <y> is used for /j/ and <s, z, c, >j>-with haczek are used for /S, Z, tS, dZ/, respectively? >
(1) as for "y", to keep the phonemicization in line with English spelling; "j" would confuse matters. And Sanskritists get along just fine with y, c, j, as do many American linguists.. (2) avoidance of digraphs (phonemic principle: one sound, one symbol) or mixing upper/lower case (an aesthetic judgment I suppose, though in discussing a language with lots of sounds such mixing was resorted to). (3) following on (2), in the olden days of typewritten mss., things like barred-i, barred-b/d/g (for the fricatives) were relatively easy to type (and to type-set, if you didn't have an IPA font). But it was always a bore to have to add the haceks by hand (accents and tildes too, if you didn't have an international typewriter-- until Olivetti came along in the early 50s, those were special-order and expensive; a linguistics department might have _one_ for everybody's use. IPA typewriters were even rarer. The US was-- ahem-- a bit provincial 50-plus years ago......Professional journals like Language and IJAL had proper IPA fonts, however, though almost no-one else did.) Just think-- to type a real schwa on an ordinary machine, you would have to remove the paper, insert it upside down, align it properly, type "e", then reverse the process. Aargh, No wonder we used barred-i, or left a blank space and inserted them by hand-- leading to errors in the published text 9 times out of 10. The problem in those days was not dissimilar to our problems with representing IPA in email. The 26 letters of the alphabet just aren't enough...... <rant> One Dutch journal I've often used, printed in Indonesia in colonial days, is notorious for horrendous typos. Of course the typesetters were Indonesians who may or may not have known Dutch, and the mss. were (often) handwritten. When a non-native Dutch reader can spot errors in the Dutch text, one wonders what's slipping by in the native-language portions. Case in point: a dictionary glosses a certain word "boomsoort" (tree sp.), but comparative evidence shows that the word clearly refers to a _bean_ sp. (boonsoort). </rant>