Phonetic orthographies

Randy Presuhn randy_presuhn at
Fri Nov 10 21:08:10 CET 2006

Hi -

> From: "Michael Everson" <everson at>
> To: "IETF Languages Discussion" <ietf-languages at>
> Sent: Friday, November 10, 2006 9:49 AM
> Subject: Re: Phonetic orthographies
> 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!

I don't know about the specific cases of Finnish & Estonian,
but for the languages I've studied, it makes a big difference
where the transcription lies on the range from broad phonemic
to narrow phonetic transcriptions.  If the transcription is narrow
enough to describe regional "accent" differences, chances are
good that it will be quite far removed from the standard

> >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.

I agree that there is great importance in being able to distinguish
among transcription systems.  However, I think we must also
recognize that frequently cataloguers may only have sufficient
expertise to recognize that material is in, for example, some
kind of IPA-based transcription, without being able to distinguish,
for example, between the *very* different "Americanist" transcription
systems.  Now "Latn" might work nicely, if it weren't for that
bit about "Suppress-Script", which leaves us unable to distinguish
between English in its usual orthography from a phonetic or
phonemic transcription of English, which is known to be a transcription
but for which the specific transcription system has not been identified
by the cataloguer.


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