Phonetic orthographies

Michael Everson everson at
Fri Nov 10 18:49:12 CET 2006

At 11:49 -0500 2006-11-10, John Cowan wrote:

>Thanks for the list.  The issue currently raging on LTRU is whether
>the degree of difference between phonetic and ordinary orthographies,
>or between one phonetic orthography and another, is properly handled as
>a variant, or whether it rises to the level of a subscript.

The ISO 15924 RA has already received and rejected an application for
a script tag for IPA. It does not meet the criteria established in
ISO 15924. It is simply a large collection of Latin letters,
typically drawn in ordinary Roman or Italic style, with a couple of
Greek letters that arguably ought to have been cloned.

This is not my view only. It was the view of the RA. It is of course
recognized that a tagging mechanism is needed, but ISO 15924 script
codes are not not the way to do it.

>There are three positions:
>1) All these orthographies are simply applications of the Latin script;


>2) Latin phonetic orthographies are, as a whole, a subscript of Latin;

No. They differ too much.

>3) Each distinct Latin phonetic orthography is a distinct subscript
>     of Latin.

I should think not, really. Websters or Berlitz respellings, or Cut
Spelling, or SoundSpel, etc etc etc are all examples of "distinct
phonetic orthography", at least from some point of view.

>The argument for #2 and #3 is that the degree of unintelligibility of a
>phonetic orthography to those who know the conventional one is close to
>that of a script-level transcription or transliteration.

Personally I think this is bogus. Yes, there may be some unfamiliar
letters in the extended alphabet. That depends greatly on the
language. Look at the Finnish and Estonian examples in the 1949 IPA
handbook. They hardly differ from standard orthography!

>The argument for #2 as opposed to #3 is administrative convenience,
>making 'Latp' a blanket term, a sort of analogue of 'sgn'.

I don't see how that solves anything. You would still need a tag to
determine WHICH phonetic orthography it was (apart from the question
of how to define "phonetic orthography"). Latn-fonipa is no different
from *Latp-fonipa in that case.

fonipa International Phonetic Alphabet
fonupa Uralic Phonetic Alphabet
fonweb Websters phonetic respelling (i-macron = [aj] etc)
fonami Americanist phonetic tradition
fonlep Lepsius' Standard Alphabet
fonmal Landsmaalalfabetet.
fondan Danish dialect alphabet
fornor Norwegian dialect alphabet

And of course there are many more. Each of these orthographies is Latn, though.
Michael Everson *

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