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Consonant diacritics (was: Optimum number of symbols)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 21, 2002, 4:26
At 2:42 pm -0400 20/5/02, Jake X wrote:

>>The idea of diacritics for something other than vowels interests me! I >>probably never would have thought of that on my own. Do any ('natural') >>systems use something like that?
Most certainly - see below:
>(I can only write fictional ones, which >>might be the source of my problem.) >Well, for conlangs, Esperanto is a very good example. It ONLY uses >diacritics on consonants (examples: cx, gx, hx, where x represents ^ above >the letter.
Yes, but Esperanto is hardly a 'natural language'. The idea of sticking a circumflex over a consonant has always seemed weird to me - but that's probably because I'm only too aware of the origin of the symbol. But what Zamenhof was doing, as we know, was simply inverting the kaczek use in Czech, and that symbols was invented for conanants and has remained over consonants ever since AFAIK.
>Also, as far as natlangs ("natural languages"), french has a c >with a diacritical mark (as in Francoise). At least I think so,
Yes it does, it called a cedilla and orginally came from Spain, where 'cedilla' means "little zed/zee"; and that it what it once was: a little {z} written beneath the {c} to show the then sound [ts]. But Spanish has changed and the spelling been revised and the little symbol hopped over the Pyrenees to find a new home :) It has also spread elsewhere; the Turks not only put the cedilla beneath {c} to denote /tS/, but also beneath {s} to denote /S/. The Romanians put it beneath {t} to denote /ts/. Polish uses a symbol like an acute accent over {c}, {n}, {s} and {z} to denote palatalization. Turkish uses the breve above {g} to denote [G] or, before front vowels [j]. The dot is used above consonants: (a) in traditional Irish to denote soft mutation (normally respelled as consonant+h in the modern Roman script), i.e. on plosives to denote a fricative value, and on {s} to denote [h]. (c) in Maltese, e.g. dotted-c = /tS/; dotted-g = /dZ/ ~ undotted-g = /g/; dotted-z = /z/ ~ undotted-z = /ts/. I doubt that the above is exhaustive. Ray. ======================================================= Speech is _poiesis_ and human linguistic articulation is centrally creative. GEORGE STEINER. =======================================================


John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Dan Sulani <dnsulani@...>
Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>