Phonetic orthographies

Gerard Meijssen gerardm at
Fri Nov 24 17:21:15 CET 2006

There have been a lot of discussions on this topic and how I perceive 
much of the discussion is that many people do not use the same 
terminology to describe things. To help me understand the issues I am 
writing down how I think these things are and, I would appreciate people 
to help me understand things better where I have it wrong.

When the Chinese decided to move away from the traditional script, they 
came up with a new script, which is the simplified script. It is a 
different script because it is the /characters /themselves that were 
changed. This is different from a change in orthography, like the one 
that happened for the Dutch language in 2005, because here the 
arrangement of characters changed but the characters themselves stayed 
the same.

There are several ways of describing languages phonetically. The most 
relevant is IPA. Pronunciations can be expressed in IPA. The problem 
with describing pronunciations is, that they indicate not necessarily 
the language but a given locale or dialect. This means that an IPA 
registration needs to be often more than just a combination of a 
language with an indication that it is IPA that follows.

IPA has a specific set of characters. Each describes a particular sound 
well. The registration of an IPA notation is either done by having a 
good ear or by having software that does this for you.

The ISO 15924 is about scripts. If IPA is not just Latin characters, I 
can imagine that there is an argument for having it considered a 
separate script. When this is the case however, I can imagine that this 
creates its own problems because an IPA character is then NOT a Latin 
character and they can then not be intermixed .. right ? So, when IPA is 
special, it may need its own range of characters. If IPA is Latin then 
it may have a superset of characters.

My understanding that under ISO 15924 is, that you cannot have it both 
ways. But then again, what do I know :) .


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