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brz, or Plan B revisited (LONG)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Monday, September 19, 2005, 10:16
Recently there were a few mails about Jeff Prothero's "Plan B". Jörg and
I both agreed his article "design and Implementation of a Near-optimal
Loglan Syntax" made many good points, but that his phonology for Plan B
is naive. It is arbitrary and American-centered.

Jörg suggested dropping the dual consonant ~ vowel pronunciation of each
of the 16 letters, pronouncing them always as consonants (since
consonant symbols are used for the 16 letters),and inserting epenthetic
vowels where needed.

In the meantime I had been thinking along similar lines, and suggested
that as Jeff's 16 consonant letters mapped to unique four-bit patterns,
the last bit or least significant (LSB) of the first consonant & the
first or most significant bit (MSB) of the second consonant would
determine the value of the vowel (see my mail of 11th Sep).

That may have reminded one or two of an email I posted on 9th Nov. 2003
in which I proposed a four-vowel scheme for BrScB in which the vowels
were determined from the bit patterns: 00, 01, 10, 11.

At that time, BrScB (a name which is now deprecated!) used a sort of
syllabary based on an idea Dirk Elzinga had suggested way back in May
1999 (on another list). I quote a snippet from that mail:
... where each syllable has the same consonant but varies in the vowel
quality. The vowel qualities are "resting" (central unrounded), rounded,
and fronted.

p [p|, pu, pi]	b [pa, po, pe] ("|" is "barred-i")
t [t|, tu, ti]	d [ta, to, te]

Returning to these two BrScB ideas of Nov. 2003, and combining them with
Jeff's four-bit (hex digit) idea, I have come 'discovered' this strange
little language called _brz_ /pElusi/

The language has 4 has four vowels:
      Front  Back
High  /i/    /u/
Low   /E/    /O/

My mail of 9th Nov. 2003 mapped these in a somewhat arbitrary way, which
showed its anglocentricity with Lo=0 and Hi=1. Now, it seems to me
preferable that:
- final (probably unstressed) vowel in a string be a high vowel (there
are many natlang precedents for this; also unstressed low vowels tend
towards [@] in many languages);
- the vowel of the last syllable will have only a distinct LSB; it seems
more reasonable to assume he 'missing' MSB is a 0 rather than a 1;
therefore high will be the unmarked (0) value, and low the marked (1) value.

As for the other dimension, one tends to work from front to back. Thus 0
as LSB will trigger a front vowel, and 1 will trigger a back vowel.Thus
we have:
      Front  Back
High  00    10
Low   01    11

The language has eight consonants, arranged in four series (0 to 3) of
two grades,
              #0   #1   #2   #3
  Sonorant: (zero) /l/  /n/  /m/
Obstruent:   /k/  /s/  /t/  /p/

The 'zero consonant' is just that, i.e. phonologically the syllable is
V, while all the others are CV. Phonetically it may have a glottal stop
onset or a glide onset ([j] before front vowels and [w] before back vowels).

This set of 8 consonants has a _complementary_ set: one occurring after
high vowels and the other after low vowels. (This is the opposite of
Dirk's 1999 idea, but doing it this way means all word final vowels are
high - see above).

This in effect gives us four rows or 'grades': (a) sonorants after high
vowels; (b) obstruents after high vowels; a) sonorants after low vowels;
(b) obstruents after low vowels. We have therefore a script of 16
consonant letters. This could well map into Tengwar 1 to 16

But I must map them into quartets of bits and into modern Roman
alphabetic symbols.

We have already established that the 8 consonants have 0 as their MSB.
The next two bits map the four series, #0 to #3, thus (n the 1st set):
00, 01, 10, 11.

It seems reasonable that 0000 should map the 'zero' consonant; thus the
LSB in consonants of the first grade is 0, thus: 0000, 0010, 0100, 0110.
We can map #1, #2 and #3 simply as |l|, |n| and |m|. I suggest the zero
consonant is denoted by the apostrophe.

This means that second grade is distinguished from the first by having
its LSB set to 1, thus: 0001, 0011, 0101, 0111. They are mapped in Roman
script as |k|, |s|, |t| and |p|.

The second set is the _complement_ of the first set, so the obvious
thing to do is set the MSB to 1 and use _one's complement_ of the 1st
set. This means that the sonorant grade is 1111, 1101, 1011, 1001. The
'zero' consonant can be mapped as |h| which is zero consonant in the
Romance languages, and #2 by |r|. The next two are not so obvious. If we
are confined to ASCII, then I guess we have to have |N| and |M|. But if
Unicode is available (as it should be) we can use |ɴ| (U+0274 IPA small
capital N) and |μ| (U+03BC Greek small letter mu).

Finally we have the obstruent grade of the second set: 1110, 1100, 1010,
1000. These we can readily represent as |g|, |z|, |d| and |b|.

Quartet Letter  Value
  0000     '      front vowel with optional non-phonemic onset
  0001     k      /k/ followed by a back vowel
  0010     l      /l/ followed by a front vowel
  0011     s      /s/ followed by a back vowel
  0100     n      /n/ followed by a front vowel
  0101     t      /t/ followed by a back vowel
  0110     m      /m/ followed by a front vowel
  0111     p      /p/ followed by a back vowel

  1000     b      /p/ followed by a front vowel
  1001     M      /m/ followed by a back vowel
  1010     d      /t/ followed by a front vowel
  1011     N      /n/ followed by a back vowel
  1100     z      /s/ followed by a front vowel
  1101     r      /l/ followed by a back vowel
  1110     g      /k/ followed by a front vowel
  1111     h      back vowel with optional non-phonemic onset

The above is given in bit value order. The alphabet could be set out in
series and grade order, thus: 'lnm kstp hrNM gzdb

(a) Using the two-letter combo given in my mail of 9th Nov. 2003:
bz = 1000 1100 /pEsi/
pz = 0111 1100 /p0si
bs = 1000 0011 /pisu/
ps = 0111 0011 /pusu/

(c) Using Jeff Prothero's example in which _cjbjt_ is pronounced
"showboat", and by keeping his bit values, we have:
0001 0110 0000 0110 1101 = km'mr = /kumi.imElu/



Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>