Phonetic orthographies

John Cowan cowan at
Fri Nov 24 21:46:28 CET 2006

Gerard Meijssen scripsit:

> 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.

That's a very artificial distinction.  When Russian removed some
letters and added another, was that a change in script?  Clearly not.

> There are several ways of describing languages phonetically. The 
> most relevant is IPA. 

That depends entirely on your scholarly tradition; there are many
languages for which the IPA representation is entirely *ir*relevant.

> 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.

(Does such software really exist?  I doubt it.)

> 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 ? 

Not so.  There are characters that are both Hant and Hans.  Indeed,
there are characters A, B, and C such that A is the simplified
version of B, but B is the simplified version of C -- Hant users
use B and C, Hans users use A and B.

Andrew Watt on Microsoft:                       John Cowan
Never in the field of human computing           cowan at
has so much been paid by so many      
to so few! (pace Winston Churchill)

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