Phonetic orthographies

Mark Davis mark.davis at
Sat Nov 11 20:32:39 CET 2006

15924 does not encode just scripts, it also has variants and aliases, such

   - Cyrs, Latf, Latg, Hans, Hant, Syre, Syrj, Syrn
   - Hrkt, Jpan

The inclusion of IPA as a variant script of Latin is little different from
the distinction between Hans and Hant; both are primarily differences in
selection of characters from UCS. The difference between English written in
IPA vs regular Latin characters is certainly on the order of the difference
between Chinese written in Hans vs Hant, if not more so. It would be of
great benefit to users of IPA to be able to tag data with a variant script
code, and little pragmatic reason not to allow that, especially in view of
the fact that the standard has already been stretched to include variants
and aliases.

>> This is not my view only. It was the view of the RA.

Regarding the above statement, I also want to add that as far as I can tell,
the 15924 JAC did not consider this topic in any depth, nor does any of the
discussion here seem to be forwarded to the JAC for their consideration; I
believe that the members are unaware of the issues raised regarding language
tags. As far as I could see from email, the sum total of the discussion was
three statements, two by the same person:

A: "As far as I can see, IPA is just a set of Latin characters."
A: "The IPA is a set of Latin letters, and can be represented by Latn. It is
an orthography of Latin, not a script of its own."
C: "I concur with this conclusion."
[names removed to protect the innocent]

Morever, I want to point out that the RA and the JAC are two different
entities, and that this view does not represent the view of the RA (which
has not taken a position on the issue).


On 11/11/06, Peter Constable <petercon at> wrote:
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at
> [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael
> Everson
> > I don't know how to understand the problem people
> > have with the IPA.
> And you didn't know how to understand the problem people had with
> es-americas either. But the problem was still real.
> > I have a hypothesis, not intended to offend anyone.
> No offense taken, for my part.
> > Some people who only learned 26-35 letters when they
> > were children playing with their building blocks and
> > refrigerator magnets and so on apparently have
> > difficulty learning new letters when they encounter
> > them later on. They look at a run of IPA or UPA or
> > something and say "I can't read that" without really
> > trying. But of course they can.
> For the vast majority of people, they *can't* read it, aren't going to
> try, nor should they have to unless what they are really looking for is
> a phonetic transcription.
> > But unfamiliarity does not a separate script make.
> Nobody has said phonetic transcriptions are a separate script. We say it
> is a script variant that is significantly different from most Latin
> practical orthographies, different enough to make content illegible,
> unhelpful and undesirable to users except where they are specifically
> looking for such content; different enough to warrant a script-variant
> ID in 15924 to facilitate IT implementations that can easily
> differentiate such content from "normal" orthographic content and
> deliver to users the kind of content that they want.
> Peter
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