Phonetic orthographies

Mark Davis mark.davis at
Sat Nov 11 00:52:59 CET 2006


On 11/10/06, Peter Constable <petercon at> wrote:
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:
> ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
> >>Perhaps the ISO 15924 RA would like to suggest a alternative solution to
> >>its user community in view of the request for a solution?
> >
> > It's not the RA's job to do that, really.
> It *is* the RAs job to register tags that users want to use, and to
> service the user needs for which ISO 15924 was created. If the RA does't
> feel a particular user need should be met using the standard when users are
> suggesting that it should, then IMO the RA should be prepared to suggest
> where an alternative solution might lie. Just the the ISO 639 JAC needs to
> be prepared to do.
> > However, I (for my part) did suggest that the
> > following might be used:
> Yes, but users are saying these alone are not considered sufficient for
> the needs, and you have not provided a solution to that extent.
> >>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.
> >
> > ISO 15924 is based on form.
> Well, let's consider this. Is Fraser a subset of Latin or separate script?
> In terms of form, it is very clearly a subset of Latin, yet I believe I've
> heard you say it must be considered a separate script because of its
> unicameral behaviour. Phonetic transcriptions -- certainly those I'm
> familiar with -- are absolutely unicameral. (E.g. in Americanist, "a" and
> "A" represent distinct sounds.) So, by that line of reasoning, you ought
> equally to consider phonetic transcriptions separate scripts. I think we'd
> all agree that that's not where we want to go. But I suggest to you it ought
> to be enough to say that phonetic transcriptions based on Latin have some
> distinctive behaviour that warrants considering them a script variant.
> >>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.
> >
> > That still does not mean that IPA, or UPA, or
> > Landsmålsalfabetet, or Webster's spelling, are
> > scripts other than Latin. Nor does it mean that
> > they belong to some collective variant of Latin
> I think you are too swayed by an academic, graphology perspective and have
> lost site of the fact that ISO 15924 exists NOT as a form of academic
> documentation but rather to serve practical IT purposes. (I find this very
> reminiscent of the es-americas issue: you opposed it because it didn't fit
> your understanding of dialectology when you were missing the very real
> practical IT need.)
> > I understand that you have a problem because of
> > the way that your parsing taxonomy works. I don't
> > see how that translates into changing the intent
> > of ISO 15924 into
> So, let's revisit the intent:
> "The codes were devised for use in terminology, lexicography,
> bibliography, and linguistics, but they may be used for any application
> requiring the expression of scripts in coded form. This International
> Standard also includes guidance on the use of script codes in some of these
> applications."
> Again, you've got users saying that they have a need -- including in
> lexicography and linguistics -- to code Latin-based phonetic transcriptions
> as a script variant. The intent of the standard is to code just such things,
> and to provide usage guidance. Please encode "Latp", or please provide
> guidance as to how the practical need can be better met.
> > What script is this in?
> >
> >       crdiloetis kari da mza k'amatobden tu romeli iqo upro dzlieri.
> >
> > It's Latin, isn't it?
> Yes; and note the complete in appropriateness of
>         Crdiloetis kari da mza k'amatobden tu romeli iqo upro dzlieri.
> The capitalization has just turned this content into some completely
> different "orthography" with no known usage. Clearly this is Latin, but with
> exceptional rules -- i.e. a distinct variant of Latin.
> > I comprehend what you are describing. I don't
> > think that ISO standards should be, hm, abused in
> > this way.
> This is not an abuse but a very reasonable and practical IT application.
> It can only be seen as an abuse if you insist of thinking of the intent of
> the standard as being to provide academic documentation of scripts, or if
> you find a much better way to engineer solutions to the IT needs. Again, the
> RA has not done the latter, so I must assume the RA is doing the former,
> which is deviating from the intent of the standard.
> > *Latp is no different than, say an ISO
> > 639 tag *enc, taken to be a variety of "eng"
> > 'English' designed for use by speakers of
> > varieties of "Commonwealth English" (en-GB,
> > en-IE, en-ZA, en-AU, en-NZ) which may share many
> > features and be difficult for speakers of other
> > varieties of English to understand. It would make
> > your filter much easier, but it would be the
> > wrong thing to do.
> I think a much closer analogy would be an ISO 639 ID zh that encompasses
> yue, cmn, etc. And ISO 639 does encode zh.
> Peter
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