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Too bizarre?

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, November 9, 2003, 16:45
I've recently been having one or two thoughts about the BrScB syllabary.
You may recall that it was developed from an idea Dirk suggested in 1999.
At the time he said it was "probably a little too baroque for practical
use".   But as a lover of baroque I found it attractive :-)

One of the problems, however, with the BrScB scheme is that we need an
extra character, a bit like Lin's "cements", to make the vocalization
clear. So a two consonant written word does, in fact, need a _third_
symbol both to make the vocalization and the meaning clear.  This seems a

I recall that at about the same time that Dirk was suggesting his
'syllabary', Srikanth, the inventor of Lin, suggested a scheme whereby two
consonants actually determined between themselves what their own
vocalization was.  Unfortunately I did not keep the mail where he outlined
his scheme; all I have is this tantalizing fragment:
"it struck me that there is equally simple system to exhaust all
phonotactically allowed open syllables by requiring pairs of letters to
jointly determine the two syllables they will represent (for example):
sk /suki/
sg /segi/
tk /tuka/
tg /tega/"

(I don't suppose Dirk, or BP - or any one else - has kept any fuller info.
  about Srikanth's scheme)

I guess I thought that was approaching the rococo :)
But I have been re-thinking this again. I don't know how Srikanth was
imagining it. But at present BrScB has four vowels:
                FRONT    BACK
High     i        u
Low      E        O

As I was going through truth tables with my students the other day, it
suddenly struck me that the two input columns for AND, OR and XOR had four
arrangements and if, instead of putting A and B at the top of each column
we could have:
         Lo/Hi  Back/Front
           0        0       = /O/
           1        0       = /u/
           0        1       = /E/
           1        1       = /i/

Where Lo=0, Hi=1; and 0 = Back (and rounded) and 1 = Front (and unrounded)

Thus if we reassign the BrScB plosives, fricatives and alveolar
approximant thus:

                       Binary values
                        0       1
bilabial plosive  /p/  b       p
alveolar plosive  /t/  d       t
velar plosive     /k/  g       k
labiodental fric. /f/  v       f
alveolar fric.    /s/  z       s
alveolar appr.    /l/  r       l

The first consonant, as in the binary table above, determines the height
and the second whether it is back or front, e.g.
bz (00) = /pOsO/
pz (10) = /pusu/
bs (01) = /pEsE/
ps (11) = /pisi/

The advantages of this over the present BrScB scheme is that:
- we do not need any extra symbol to make the vocalization clear;
- bz, pz etc have only _one_ meaning each instead of two possible meanings
which IMO is better.

But is it too bizarre??

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