Phonetic orthographies

Peter Constable petercon at
Fri Nov 10 19:49:55 CET 2006

-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at
[mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael

> 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. ... 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.

Perhaps the ISO 15924 RA would like to suggest a alternative solution to
its user community in view of the request for a solution?

>>2) Latin phonetic orthographies are, as a whole, a subscript of Latin;
> No. They differ too much.

They may differ greatly from one another formally, but in terms of
function they clearly form a group that unites them with one another but
differentiate them from Latin practical orthographies in common use.

>>The argument for #2 and #3 is that the degree of unintelligibility of
>>phonetic orthography to those who know the conventional one is close
>>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!

But the functionality of phonetic transcriptions is clearly distinct,
and the desirability for a user of getting content in phonetic
transcription vs. common practical orthography is in general very real.

>>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.

True. However, by having the ability to make a distinction in the script
subtag allows for processes to filter at a higher level. An
implementater might reasonably decide that, for their application,
variant-level distinctions are unimportant (e.g. German in 1904 vs. 1996
orthography), while script-level distinctions are (e.g. Azeri in Latin
vs. Cyrillic orthography). In those scenarios, phonetic transcriptions
would matter just as much as the script-level distinctions, and assuming
that the implementer must treat them as variant-level distinctions is
forcing them to create mechanisms to parse and process parts of the tag
that they only need consider for this one kind of content and could
otherwise ignore.

It *does* solve something and would be very useful.

> 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.

Think of it like creating a filter for you email inbox, and suppose
these were tags in the subject field: you'd be creating a bunch of
rules, one for each of these, with a need to keep adding rules as you
discovered more and more cases; but the alternative would be having one
tag, Latp, that was getting used with all of these, allowing you to
write your rule once and never need to update it. That analogy should
give you a partial picture of how #2 could be useful and solve a need.


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