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Re: O-ogonek

From:Lars Henrik Mathiesen <thorinn@...>
Date:Monday, May 8, 2000, 18:15
> Date: Mon, 8 May 2000 17:38:18 +0200 > From: daniel andreasson <daniel.andreasson@...>
> Both Danny and James wondered: > > > If I understand correctly, ON o-ogonek became modern å. [Orthographically, > > is the ring actually representative of a letter o?] > > Hmm... o-ogonek was [O], i.e. short. Afaik <å> developed > from <á> which was the long from of /a/ and possibly rounded > already in ON times. So - but this is a mere guess - I think > that o-ogonek still is <o> and pronounced [O] or in some cases > it went back to <a> [a] due to analogy. That is, if all the > words in a paradigm had <a> and only one had <o-ogonek> then > it was likely to change back to <a> as well.
Here's the versions I know of these stories. I got most of this off BPJ some years ago, and he'll probably point out my misunderstandings once he gets around to it... What was the o-hook: This letter was used in the most linguistically aware manuscripts to denote the sound that reconstruction shows to be the 'u-umlaut of a'. (Where 'a' is seemingly /a/). This was probably a low very rounded back or central vowel. Since both long and short /a/ got u-umlauted, there would have been long and short versions of o-hook, but that was never marked in the manuscripts. (O-hook-acute does occur in some normalized editions, however). AFAIR, long o-hook and long a merged into one sound everywhere --- in Iceland <á> = /Aw/, elsewhere <å> = /O:/. Short o-hook became <ö> = /9/ in Iceland, and /O/ elsewhere, when it didn't get leveled to /A/. The usual spelling for Old Norse ('normalized' spelling) is mostly a modern artifact. The old manuscripts have a very wide range of conventions for the vowels resulting from umlaut processes. Among these are digraphs like <ao> for 'o-hook' and <aa> for long a, both of which could be ligatured as <å>. Different Latin letters were used in some places, like <y> for /y/ and <æ> for /E/. Other places used to put a horizontal stroke over a back vowel to get the corresponding rounded front sound. Modern orthography and letter order: Some time in the 1500's or so, the Swedish king thought that he'd like to be modern, so he bribed some German printers to emigrate to Sweden. They looked over the manuscripts they were asked to print and quickly hacked some <a>s to look like <å>s, and then decided that the <ä>s and <ö>s that they had in their cases already would serve for /E/ and /2 9/ just as in German. Not to be outdone, the Danish king got hold of some Dutch printers. They didn't have as many <ä>s and <ö>s, but lots of <æ>s for Latin. So they put a stroke through some <o>s to get <ø>s and used the old <aa> digraph instead of <å>. As a result of that, the Swedes had an <å> when they decided the order of the 'new' letters, but the Danes and Norwegians didn't. The Norwegians adopted <å> once they got rid of the Danes, and the Danes finally saw the light in 1948 --- but in both countries the newest letter got stuck at the end of the order. Accented <æ ø å>: Three initials for you, John: KJS. The only use for these forms in Danish is if you want to show stress for didactic purposes. There's an old Danish slang dictionary where the author in his preface roundly complains about the (lead type) printers' only having accented <aeiouy>. Once upon a time, when I used that example on the ISO 10646 list as an argument against using only precomposed characters, the aforementioned gentleman smugly informed me that he had already gotten them inserted into the draft as precomposed. Lars Mathiesen (U of Copenhagen CS Dep) <thorinn@...> (Humour NOT marked)