Phonetic orthographies

Peter Constable petercon at
Sat Nov 11 20:00:44 CET 2006

From: Michael Everson [mailto:everson at] 

>>Well, let's consider this. Is Fraser a subset of Latin or separate
> It is a 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.
> Its origins are Latin, but its behaviour and its 
> shapes are not. 

It's shapes most certainly are Latin.

> Font variation (deviation from 
> Helvetica/Arial letterforms), for instance, is 
> either unheard of or extremely rare. 

That doesn't make the shapes any less Latin.

> "Lower-cased" Fraser is *illegible* to Lisus. 
> Upper-cased IPA is not conventional, (and some 
> letters do not have upper-case versions encoded) 
> but that does not mean that it is illegible, 

It would no longer be IPA, and some IPA symbols have no casing.
Moreover, in some transcriptions, changing the case will absolutely
change the semantics. So, casing is just as much of a problem for
phonetic transcriptions as for Fraser.

> All three are Latin. But one is also something 
> other than Latin? I'm sorry. I don't accept that.
> I think I know what a script is. I do not believe 
> that IPA is a separate script from Latin.

You keep repeating "is something other than Latin" but never seem to
hear the simple, clear statements being made: nobody is claiming it
isn't Latin; they are only claiming that phonetic transcriptions are a
significant variant.

>I think you are too swayed by an academic, 
>graphology perspective and have lost [sight] 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.)

> You may, but I (personally) devised ISO 15924 in 
> the first place, and edited it from beginning to 
> end, so I *might* be expected to know what it is 
> for.

You might be expected to know what you intended it to be for, which is
not the same thing as what ISO intends it to be for or what users need
it to be. 

> It is a standard for the identification of 
> the names of scripts. "Latin Phonetic" isn't the 
> name of a script. "Phonetic transcription" isn't 
> the name of a script.

Neither is Latin (Fraktur variant) or Latin (Gaelic variant).

> "IPA" doesn't trump the hundreds of other phonetic 
> transcriptions out there and deserve its own script 
> code while all of the others do not. 

I explicitly am not asking for a script-variant ID for IPA and nothing

> This is not only my opinion. The RA rejected a 
> proposal already for "Ipaa"

I am not making the same proposal.

> I recognize that there is a need to identify runs 
> of text as IPA orthography. I do not accept that 
> the distinction is one of *script*; 

I'm not asking for IPA. I'm not saying Latin-based phonetic
transcriptions are a distinct script. I'm asking for a script-variant ID
as has been done for Fraktur and Gaelic.

Peter Constable

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