lessons for conlang orthography Re: English notation
|From:||Tom Tadfor Little <tom@...>|
|Date:||Friday, June 29, 2001, 21:19|
Nice post, Ray.
>IMHO the only successful way for a wholesale reform of English (rather than
>regularizing present spelling) is to adopt a _phonemic_ approach which
>accommodates all mainstream varieties of English.
A good summary. The problem with Christian's suggestion (and my variation
of it) is that it aspires to be something like a phonetic transcription,
which is counterproductive overkill if the object is to make English
spelling more consistent and easily learned. A phonemic approach would
still spark some debates, but would fare much better. When I learned to
read as a child, there was a basic series of easy ideas: long and short
vowels, vowel diphthongs, consonant digraphs. A spelling system that
focused on those basics, so that a young child using the rules to "sound
out" a written word would always get something unambiguously close to the
correct spoken word in the local dialect, would surely hit the mark,
although it would not be perfect by any abstract criteria.
A lot could be done just by marking long and short vowels in ambiguous
situations, and eliminating silent e.
To steer this back to conlanging, here are some thoughts arising from Ray's
* There's probably some degree of "imperialism" at work when any language
is standardized, in spelling, pronunciation, or other aspect. The issue I
see here for conlangers (especially those who work the conculture dimension
too) is that unless your language is completely unstandardized, there is
probably some "back story" about how it became regularized. Political
power? Cultural/literary elitism? Academic reform?
* In my conlangs, I confess that I usually dismiss accents with some rapid
hand-waving. Sure, each phoneme has a range of allophones. Now forget about
it and move on... ;) But as this thread indicates, the situation in real
languages can be quite complex. In particular, speakers of different
dialects may actually disagree on where the phoneme boundaries lie, not
just how each is sounded. And orthography can influence people's perception
of the language's phoneme structure. Perhaps the discussion can inspire
some of us to strive for more realism in this area.
* If you are not using a strictly phonetic orthography for you conlang,
think about how its speakers might make phonetic transcriptions of their
own language. What would a dictionary with pronunciation guides look like?
Tom Tadfor Little firstname.lastname@example.org
Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA)
Telperion Productions www.telp.com