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Orthography typesetter!

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Friday, May 17, 2002, 12:05
Hi all,

More updates about my conlang (I seem to be hitting an inspirational trend

I've just written a raw orthography to LaTeX generator.

As you may or may not know, my conlang has 27 consonants and 9 vowels
(with length, pitch accent, breathing, and nasality) -- way more than can
be represented by the Roman alphabet (esp. in ASCII). Hence, the
orthography (in ASCII) is less than pleasant: I've had to resort to
capital letters (ugh) and digits, and double-letters to represent vowel
length. Not to mention seriously ugly-looking ticks and apostrophes and
tildes, potentially all stringing off a single vowel letter, to represent
vowel breathing, nasality, etc..

But now, I've finally found a way to have a sane orthography that doesn't
make your eyes cross when you try to read it. (OK, it may still make your
eyes cross if you don't know the language, but hey :-P)  As you may or may
not know, LaTeX/TeX is an extremely powerful typesetting tool that can
handle, amongst many difficult things, the placing of complex diacritics
on characters. I've devised a more compact representation of my conlang's
orthography using multiple diacritics per letter as necessary (which,
incidentally, is how I write it on paper -- those ugly double-letters,
etc., are a compromise for ASCII).

And now, I have created a shiny new toy, the orthography-to-LaTeX
convertor, which takes what I type in the original, ugly ASCII
representation, and outputs the LaTeX equivalent that would typeset very
nicely. And I'm very pleased with the results so far.

For those who were part of the Translation Relay Ring 2 some time ago, you
may take a look at a more readable version of my entry here:

PostScript (recommended, this is MUCH higher quality):

PDF (only if you're one of those deprived of PS-viewing tools :-P):

I have two versions of the text here: one is with full accents, to help a
beginner know where the accents are; and one with accents only on stressed
words, which is closer to how the native script would be written. (The
native script omits accent markings on unstressed words except in
ambiguous cases, the assumption being that the reader would know where
they were supposed to go.) As you can see, this is a LOT more readable
than something that goes:
        ni biz3t30' d3 bii'l3ni. ...

Currently, I have a longer story (it actually fills one page on the LaTeX
output!) which I've also typeset with my new toy, with remarkably
beautiful results. But I'm still working on editorial changes to the text
itself, so you people would have to wait for a bit before you see it ;-)


One who has not yet appreciated the beauty of language is not worthy to
bemoan its flaws.


Clint Jackson Baker <litrex1@...>
Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>