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Re: List of natlangs

From:Douglas Koller <laokou@...>
Date:Wednesday, December 23, 1998, 12:36
John Cowan wrote:

> > Chung, min, and kuo, are lovely W-G
> Does this mean that "Kou" is W-G? If so, I will have to start > unaspirating.
No, no. Aspirate away. Same sound as "mouth" or "button" (in W-G: K'ou), only first tone.
> > while hwa is GYRMT
> More likely just a bloody spelling error.
I've assumed as much, but you never can tell...
> > (ptui!).
> I admit that Gwoyeu Romatzyh has its problems, but I don't think > it deserves *that* degree of contempt.
It is the Evil One. It is the number 666.
> If we'd grown up (so to > speak) on it, it would probably seem quite natural.
Perhaps. But since we haven't, it seems highly unintuitive. I imagine even reasonably well-read native speakers unfamiliar with the system would have great difficulty deciphering something like this: Su Shyh (Dongpo) Renshiu jy chiou chiyueh jih wanq, Su Tzyy yeu keh fannjou you yu Chyhbih jy shiah. Chingfeng shyu lai shoeibo bushing, jeujeou juukeh, sonq mingyueh jy shy ge yeauteau jy jang. If the point of romanization is to make the Chinese language more accessible to non-speakers, it fails. Pinyin 'x' and 'q' aren't especially intuitive, but my non-Chinese speaking parents can make out Chinese words they encounter in the news media with a minimal amount of carnage. Would they fare as well if confronted with words like "shyy", "feeng", or "cheau"? If the point of romanization is to make acquisition easier for CSL learners, it fails. I don't remember ever being "taught" W-G or pinyin; one picked it up rather quickly through usage. If GYRMT can be "picked up" at all, I doubt it's with speed, and I suspect it's more likely that you have to hunker down and consciously "learn" it. And why do that when CSL learners are already playing catch-up ball with the characters? If the purpose of romanization is to speed up a dictionary search, it fails. Mostly for the same reasons as above. Too, since tone gets alphabetized along with everything else, like-sounding words with different tones are scattered to different parts of the dictionary index, which I find less than convenient. Words that rhyme, even with the same tone, may be spelled differently, so that mucking about without knowing the rules cold slows you right down. It's the grade school frustration of asking an adult how to spell something and being told to look it up. Heck, a traditional search by stroke is faster. And if the point of romanization is to act as an easy, transitionary system for native-speaking children while they learn the characters, it fails. Children gain literacy in pinyin or bopomofo (not romanization, I realize) pretty quickly. Would they in GYRMT? And why bother indoctrinating them with it when they're going to eschew (and forget) it in a few years anyway? Which leaves it basically as a quaint intellectual/academic exercise. Even the webpage which speaks well of it concedes about as much. I like the way they sum it up in the opening paragraphs -- "If you don't like it, don't use it." You got it. Kou