[Fwd]: Response to Mark's message]

Jon Hanna jon at spin.ie
Thu Apr 10 14:49:23 CEST 2003

> > The first is that it allows information about scripts to be completely
> > orthogonal to information about languages. It's easy to create unusual
> > combinations (English in Cyrillic etc.). Unusual combinations aren't
> > actually that unusual, if I was to write some Russian, Hebrew
> or Japanese
> > inline with English text I would generally transliterate it into Latin
> > script (especially since I don't actually know any of those languages).
> Transliteration is one thing.  What we are attempting to handle here
> is the case of languages which are, in practice and by their users,
> written in more than one script.

Just about every language gets encoded in Latin, since just about every
language has come into contact with a culture with the Latin alphabet and
big guns. Limitations based on "in practice and by their users" are going to
be a bone of contention. I agree it is by far the most important case, but I
foresee problems if we define our goals to tightly to that.

> > In particular while spoken language has been spoken of as some
> kind of bogey
> > of late we do have a need to handle it correctly. The connection between
> > en-Latn-IE and spoken en-IE is a lot stronger IMHO than that between
> > en-Latn-IE and en-Latn-US.
> I find that impossible to believe.
> As a literate speaker of American English, I have never had more than the
> occasional word stand between me and any Irish English text whatsoever,
> whereas some of the remarks made by my Hiberno-English-speaking colleagues
> defeat me entirely (until they repeat them more slowly), and I think it
> quite certain that there are dialects of American English which they would
> by no means understand without considerable effort and assistance (I
> myself barely understand some of them).  The differences between American
> and Irish phonology, syntax, and lexis are much larger than the
> comparatively
> trivial differences in spelling.

Even Finnegan's Wake? Okay, unfair example.

Accent or dialect? Accent is another matter altogether.
Dialect is often defined in terms of deviation from a "received" form.
Whether that is valid or not it is how people often think, and people move
more towards the received form when writing (about the only Hibernicism you
are very likely to see me use on this list would be "a HTML" rather than "an
HTML", given the Irish tendency to say "haitch" rather than "aitch").

Still, the strongest differences between the two are present in both written
and spoken language I feel, whether words that have lost currency in one
form (we stopped using "teamster" when they stopped having teams of horses,
most dialects stopped using "press" for cupboard some time back) or which
are derived from the culture in which the language is spoken (our habit of
using Irish words, or even Irish prepositions "I've a thirst *on* me" the
subtle difference in meaning of the word "frontier" in the US).

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