pinyin (and wadegile) request has gotten derailed

David Starner prosfilaes at
Wed Sep 17 02:33:49 CEST 2008

On Tue, Sep 16, 2008 at 9:05 AM, John Cowan <cowan at> wrote:
> The comparison is not at all a happy one: Spanish and Italian orthograpies
> differ in all sorts of inessential ways.  If Italian were written with
> ll and ñ rather than gl(i) and gn(i), and t(t)s rather than z(z),
> and with non-penultimate stress marked with the acute, and half a dozen
> other things, we could truly say that the languages shared, if not an
> orthography, certainly a set of orthographic principles.

But what would the need to tag that be? Unless we were talking about a
formalized pan-Romance orthography, I'd think it be better to tag each
orthography separately with tags appropriate to their history and
common name.

> The various Soviet Turkic languages are also indisputably distinct,
> but we managed to assign a single tag to cover the Jangalif orthography
> for all of them.

But (a) they are all Turkic, (b) the orthography was designed for them
as a group, and (c) the users are likely to be familiar with it as an
orthography for a group of languages. In this case (a) we're talking
about unrelated languages, (b) the orthography was designed and
standardized (by ISO) for Mandarin only, with Tibetan coming later and
(c) most users are likely to be familiar with Hanyu Pinyin only. In
fact, I think the possibility of abuse is greatly reduced by
specifying exactly one orthography for Mandarin Chinese, rather then
calling it vaguely defining a set of orthographies and hoping people
realize that Cantonese Pinyu isn't part of that set.

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