Michael Everson everson at
Tue Sep 9 09:41:13 CEST 2008

On 8 Sep 2008, at 17:15, Randy Presuhn wrote:

> The pinyin orthography is highly optimized for the phonology of  
> Mandarin Chinese.  It would be terribly ill-suited for use with  
> Vietnamese, English, German, French, and Russian, to name just a few  
> languages for which the it lacks sufficient tone notation, vowel  
> distinctions, stress markers, or consonants.

But its orthographic conventions *are* used for other Sino-Tibetan  
languages in China.

> The registration request is for a specific orthography of a specific  
> language, which happens to reflect that language's phonology rather  
> well. It is not a general-purpose transcription mechanism, and we  
> shouldn't try to turn it into one.

The Chinese have already done so. It is analogous to UPA, which is for  
the orthography of a set of related languages (Uralic ones). UPA might  
not be well-suited to represent Hausa or Mandarin or Vietnamese. But  
that doesn't mean that if someone had come asking to register "fonupa"  
with a Prefix restricting it to Sami that it wouldn't be right to  
notice that it was used with other languages as well.

I have a collection of Yi dictionaries. Some of them have Latin  
transcriptions in the Sinological variant of IPA. Others are in a  
Pinyin-based transcription. Should we have bopinyin, typinyin,  
yipinyin, and 40 others? I don't believe so.

Michael Everson *

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