[Fwd]: Response to Mark's message]

Peter_Constable at sil.org Peter_Constable at sil.org
Thu Apr 10 09:48:30 CEST 2003

John Cowan wrote on 04/09/2003 09:14:40 PM:

> As you may remember, I've always thought that IPA was not Latin script,
> even if IPA characters are borrowed into Latin script occasionally.
> For one thing, IPA is caseless.

IPA as a writing system is similar to Japanese writing in that it draws on
more than one script: in the case of IPA, Latin and Greek. I see no value
is saying that the fact that IPA does not use case implies it is a distinct
script. It uses mainly lowercase Latin characters, some lowercase Greek
characters, and some other script-less symbols.

The Americanist phonetic tradition(s) have made use of case. For instance,
uppercase vowel letters are used to represent voiceless vocoids. But case
is not used in that writing system the same way it is in e.g. English: e.g.
you don't begin every new trascription with an uppercase letter. I'd say
that the presence of case is an attribute of a script, but the use of case
is not. If tomorrow the German-speaking countries decided it was time to
revise their spelling conventions and they eliminated use of uppercase
letters altogether, we would not suddenly say that they had created a new

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485

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