[iso15924-jac] Re: Phonetic orthographies

Marion Gunn mgunn at egt.ie
Wed Nov 22 19:02:44 CET 2006

On 21 Nov 2006, at 19:51, scríobh Kenneth Whistler:...
> Well, I think that is a misconstrual to begin with. I assume you
> are talking about a community without an indigenous writing
> system. In which case, it doesn't make much sense to talk about
> me (or my hypothetical compatriot) being "illiterate" in a
> non-existent writing system...

Wrong. I think I made it clear that such may or may not exist, but  
either it would take too long to re-educate you to write it and/or  
the elders do not feel like spending time on educating you, so we go  
with all you have (IPA).

> And I guess you mean to posit that there isn't any other written
> material...

Wrong again. (Please see above.)

> Well, first of all, such an approach isn't very likely to
> be the most effective in gathering good data...

Probably right. But all we have is you plus one, literate only in IPA  
(which is an internationally acceptable mode of committing speech to  
a form of writing in which natively-trained experts may well be as  
adept as you).

> Assuming I and my hypothetical compatriot were constrained to
> these parameters and that week, I would organize the work
> as follows:
> Track down the best traditional raconteur(s) in the town/village
> and set my compatriot to gathering high-quality digital
> recordings of whatever s/he could elicit, interspersed on
> an item by item basis with a retelling, if possible, of
> the tales in the contact language (Spanish, English, Portuguese)

Pointless. Digital recordings ar not amenable to text searches (IPA  
texts are).

> and any explanatory commentary about it. That would give the
> best chance of being able to gather good data (and lots of
> it) with an ability to unravel any of it later on...

> ...
> Then spend the rest of the week pounding through the
> gathering of as much vocabulary (with glosses in the
> contact language) as possible,

No. Better leave that to professional lexicographers, such as myself.  
All you are being paid to do is gather texts we can process  
(remember, all you know is IPA, and I already have experience of  
processing texts written in IPA by people, mostly Germans, unfamiliar  
with such native orthography as may exist).

> and unravelling the basics
> of morphological structure and syntax, so that there would
> some chance to make sense of the extended digital corpus
> being collected...

Again not your concern (way outside your ken). Your job is only to  
produce searchable, written text.

> I definitely would *not* do this in IPA... if I discovered early on  
> in the phonological
> analysis that I was dealing with a 5 vowel system (fairly
> common in the Americas), I would very, very quickly
> abandon all the details of iotas and epsilons and open
> o's and turned a's and turned m's and whatnot, for
> an "aeiou" system that worked for rapid transcription.

You mean, invent your own? Sorry, we wouldn't hire you.
> I would end up with a rough-and-ready practical
> phonemic, Latin-based orthography, probably based primarily
> on Americanist standards, but possibly borrowing some IPA
> usage for particular phonemes if useful. And whatever
> happened during the week, it would have to be refined
> later into a consistent orthography

Again, not your job. If you cannot produce text in a well-established  
script/orthography (viz. IPA), anything else you produce will be of  
absolutely no use to trained IPA researchers working in the same  
region with other communities, whose languages may or may not be  
related to the community in which we permitted you to work.

> that could be used
> to attempt to then transcribe the larger corpus of
> recorded textual material.
> --Ken
> P.S. I *have* done salvage linguistic fieldwork in
> California, although not on Chumash -- all varieties of
> which were extinct before I was trained as a field linguist.

So? We are not here positing extinct languages, Ken (but languages  
about to become extinct without such help as minimally trained IPA  
workers can give us). Have you never done salvage linguistic  
fieldwork on a living language, Ken?!

- -
Marion Gunn * EGTeo (Estab.1991)
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn, Baile an
Bhóthair, Co. Átha Cliath, Éire.
* mgunn at egt.ie * eamonn at egt.ie *

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list