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[elfscript] Chinese tehtar mode: a few more questions/clarifications

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  • Dave
    ... No, wherever a tengwa carrying a modified left-curl should carry a vowel tehta as well, it does, e.g. in DTS 46 or in DTS 49. If I remember correctly,
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 18, 2004
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      [[[My replies/suggestions/questions are in triple brackets, like these:]]]


      > 2. How would you spell the following syllables? If I understand you
      > correctly, they would have to look like this:
      >
      > zhua = extended anga with left-curl on top + A-tehta on carrier
      > (There is a preceding consonant sign, but since that already carries11
      > the tehta for <u/w> after consonant, I guess you would have to
      > handle it like this, with a carrier for <a>? Analogous for the
      > example below.)

      No, wherever a tengwa carrying a modified left-curl should carry a
      vowel tehta as well, it does, e.g. in DTS 46 or in DTS 49. If I
      remember correctly, there are no contrary samples.


      [[[Right. I think my confusion partly arose from the fact that originally you wrote "If it follows a consonant, then the <w> is represented by a left-curlabove that consonant", i.e. you didn't specify that it had to be a _modified_ left curl, though I guess I should've guessed that :). I erroneously thought you meant the "normal" U-tehta.

      I noticed that Tolkien places the vowel tehta _under_ the modified U-curl (e.g. third copy of the King's Letter). I personally would find the other way round aesthetically more pleasing, but I guess since the Professor himself did it that way, it's canonical.]]]


      I'd say this is because the modified left-curl is a consonant tehta,
      not a vowel tehta, and therefore rather analogous to the bar above
      (for prenasality) which also cooccurs with vowel tehtar. In DTS 46,
      there's actually a sample of a quesse with three tehtar above: a bar,
      a modified left-curl and a three dots tehta.

      > (As I said in an earlier mail, and as you are obviously aware of, in
      > syllables such as juan and quan, we are really dealing with jüan
      > and qüan, the same for xuan, jue, xue, lue, nue, which is why in all
      > such cases I would use your suggested spellings for <ü, üe, üa>.
      > This opposed to the spelling of <u> as in huang, zhuang, lu, shu,
      > tu, du, etc.

      You might do this, but I think it's not necessary, since there's no
      ambiguity, and since it's basically an orthographic mode.



      [[[Well, I thought you were actually sort of proposing to spell like this, since you particularly specified the spelling of <üe> which occurs _only_ in "-ue" actually being pronounced <üe>, i.e. there is no occurrence of <ue> with the <u> pronounced as in huang, zhuang etc. In other words, you wouldn't have needed to list <üe> at all, since no such spelling occurs and on top of that, there is no contrasting sound, either.

      You wouldn't have needed to give special mention to <üa> (as in juan, quan, xuan), either, since no matter if the pronunciation is <ua> or <üa>, it's always spelled <ua>, the contrasting sounds not marked (no matter what the chart you quote further down says----there is no <lüan>, only <luan>).

      Only for <ü> there is a contrasting <u> that is spelled and pronounced differently (and means something different of course).

      So I thought if you would spell (as you _do_ propose, I know that now) everything as, say "hwesta with E-tehta and modified U-curl on top" for xue, or "extended quesse with A-tehta and modified left-curl on top" for quan, there would simply be no need to list <üe, üa> at all, as all occurrences are covered by the above spellings (only <ü> would still have to appear on your list of vowel spellings).

      So you might consider crossing out <üe, üa> :).

      But I gueess it is like you said, no matter how you spell it, it would be understood, and the spellings with modified left-curl _only_ (i.e. without under-dots for palatalization) would indeed be more orthographic.]]]



      > Pinyin is strangely inconsistent when it come to <u> vs. <ü>: it
      > usually only uses <ü> in two cases, the syllables <lü> and <lüe>. In
      > <lü> it is necessary as a distinction to <lu>, which is pronounced
      > with the <u> as in huang, zhuang etc., but there is no corresponding
      > syllable <lue> for <lüe>, so it makes you wonder why they bothered
      > to indicate the actual pronunciation as <ü> in this case, while they
      > didn't do so in the other syllables quoted [juan, quan, xuan, jue,
      > xue, nue]. Of course, none of these syllables can be pronounced with
      > actual <u>, either.)

      On http://www.wfu.edu/~moran/Cathay_Cafe/IPA_NPA_4.htm there's also
      <nü>, <lüan>, <nüe>, and <lün>.



      [[[Well, I had forgotten <nü>, granted, which contrasts with <nu>, but the sounds <lün> and <lüan> don't exist in Mandarin (I would've noticed after almost twenty years living among Chinese :)), there are only <lun> and <luan>.]]]



      I don't care much about inconsistencies of pinyin, but I could imagine
      that the reason why there's <lüe>, <nüe> and not *<lue>, *<nue> is
      that the replacement of <ü> by <u> is only made after the
      alveolopalatal consonants where the pronunciation of [y] is natural
      ([y] can be considered a palatal [u]), whereas in all other cases,
      this pronunciation is not natural and therefore indicated, no matter
      whether there's an opposition or not.


      [[[I like this explanation, it sounds very reasonable. Think you hit the spot there.]


      > dao (daw) = ando + A-tehta on top of uure (Could one, in analogy to
      > your spelling of tuo, also write ando with A-tehta on top + O-tehta
      > on short carrier? I guess you'd rather write dipthongs as one unit
      > whereever possible, though--see below.)

      That's not my spelling of <tuo>, see above.



      [[[So the only valid spelling would be "ando + A-tehta on top of uure", right?

      BTW, the spelling of tuo as "tinco with O-tehta and modified left-curl on top" (and this _is_ the spelling according to your mode, right) is economical, but it really doesn't look very nice (I think). Sigh. But I like the idea of having complex vowels in one comopact unit, so that's that :).]]]




      > Now I do _not_ have any problems with any of these spellings, but do
      > they not go against your principle of not ripping diphthongs apart
      > (i.e. representing them as one unit of vowel-tehta plus
      > "vowel-tengwa")?

      No, in all cases, there's only one vowel tehta. All diphthongs are
      represented in one and the same sign. The short carrier is only used
      where a syllable begins with a vowel (unless the vowel tehta is placed
      on yanta or úre, of course).



      [[[Yes, I see that now :). I've explained above what my fallacious assumption was based on (modified left-curl vs. normal U-tehta).

      As for short carriers, they would only occur in rather rare syllables such as <an, ang, en, eng>, or <er>, i.e. when followed by a nasal or the "rolled r". In all other cases, initial vowels are followed by <o,u> (so that the vowel-tehta would be placed on uure), or by <i>, so that it would fall on yanta.

      Syllables such as ya and ye (<ia>, <ie> would be spelled with vilya plus A/E-tehta on top. Very neat.]]]




      > (With triphthongs there is no other choice, unless one would want to
      > work with two tehta, one on top and one under, one tengwa, which is
      > as far as I know not attested anywhere.)

      Also the triphthongs require only one vowel tehta, though the
      consonant parts of the triphthong are written in two tengwar. I'd
      prefer to represent triphthongs in the following way:

      (consonant +) y/w + diphthong

      That means, I'd suggest to place the vowel tehta on yanta/úre. Like
      this, the tehtar are distributed more evenly.



      [[[So if I understand you correctly, you would spell like this:

      liao = lambe with two under-dots + A-tehta on uure

      kuai = quesse with modified u-curl on top + A-tehta on yanta.]]]


      Hísilómë




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    • j_mach_wust
      ... My bad, I apologize for the confusion! ... I prefer the representation in DTS 46, where the modified left-curl is at the left and the vowel tehta at the
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 18, 2004
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        Dave 'Hísilómë' wrote:

        > [[[Right. I think my confusion partly arose from the fact that
        > originally you wrote "If it follows a consonant, then the <w> is
        > represented by a left-curlabove that consonant", i.e. you didn't
        > specify that it had to be a _modified_ left curl, though I guess I
        > should've guessed that :). I erroneously thought you meant the
        > "normal" U-tehta.

        My bad, I apologize for the confusion!

        > I noticed that Tolkien places the vowel tehta _under_ the modified
        > U-curl (e.g. third copy of the King's Letter). I personally would
        > find the other way round aesthetically more pleasing, but I guess
        > since the Professor himself did it that way, it's canonical.]]]

        I prefer the representation in DTS 46, where the modified left-curl is
        at the left and the vowel tehta at the right. It also shows a very
        narrow modified left-curl that looks like a hasty and a little angular
        <s>.

        > > On http://www.wfu.edu/~moran/Cathay_Cafe/IPA_NPA_4.htm there's
        > > also <nü>, <lüan>, <nüe>, and <lün>.
        >
        > [[[Well, I had forgotten <nü>, granted, which contrasts with <nu>,
        > but the sounds <lün> and <lüan> don't exist in Mandarin (I would've
        > noticed after almost twenty years living among Chinese :)), there
        > are only <lun> and <luan>.]]]

        Then you're certainly more reliable than that web site! There is still
        a chance that it might be different dialects or an older
        pronunciation. I've found sample words for <lüan> and <lün>, in a
        pronunciation said to be "Pekingese dialect", numbers 192 and 193 at
        this page: http://www.pinyin.info/romanization/murray/table_a.html

        However, the very same site affirms that there are only <luan> and
        <lu>: http://www.pinyin.info/romanization/hanyu/basic.html and so does
        the site http://www.zein.se/patrick/chinen8p.html#all . Additionally,
        at http://www.mandarintools.com/chardict.html number 193 is
        transcribed as lun2 'normal human relationships', and the same
        transcription is used at http://www.zhongwen.com/ where it figures as
        part of the words lun2-chang2 'social order governing interpersonal
        relations', lun2-ci4 'logical sequence', lun2-dun1 'London', and
        lun2-li3 'ethics'. I haven't been able to find number 192.

        > [[[So the only valid spelling would be "ando + A-tehta on top of
        > uure", right?

        Exactly, that's the spelling of <dao> I'm suggesting!

        > [[[So if I understand you correctly, you would spell like this:
        >
        > liao = lambe with two under-dots + A-tehta on uure
        >
        > kuai = quesse with modified u-curl on top + A-tehta on yanta.]]]

        Exactly!

        ---------------------------
        j. 'mach' wust
        http://machhezan.tripod.com
        ---------------------------
      • Dave
        ... [Yes, I was curious about DTS 46 and wanted to have a look at it, but I don t have Vinyar Tengwar 21. Too bad. I _did_ look at Chris McKay s transcription
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 18, 2004
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          j_mach_wust wrote:

          >
          > Dave 'Hísilómë' wrote:
          >
          >
          > >> I noticed that Tolkien places the vowel tehta _under_ the modified
          > >> U-curl (e.g. third copy of the King's Letter). I personally would
          > >> find the other way round aesthetically more pleasing, but I guess
          > >> since the Professor himself did it that way, it's canonical.]]]
          >
          > >I prefer the representation in DTS 46, where the modified left-curl is
          > >at the left and the vowel tehta at the right. It also shows a very
          > >narrow modified left-curl that looks like a hasty and a little angular
          > ><s>.

          [Yes, I was curious about DTS 46 and wanted to have a look at it, but I
          don't have Vinyar Tengwar 21. Too bad.

          I _did_ look at Chris McKay's transcription in ISS (with computer
          fonts, so I don't know how accurate they reflect the original), and here
          there are two examples: one is n(g)win (if that is how we should read
          it), which is the one you must be referring to here, with modified curl
          on the left, I- (or E-??) tehta on the right (Tolkien here doesn't seem
          to have quite made up his mind whether to use the dot for _i_ and the
          acute for _e_ or vice versa, or am I mistaken there?). Since the curl
          and tehta are on a two-luuva tehta (nwalme), it looks ok, but things get
          a little cramped on a one-luuva tehta like quesse----which brings us to
          the second example in this short specimen (still based on McKay's
          transcription, as that's the only source available to me), "enquantuva".
          Here it seems that, from top to bottom, the three diacritic signs on top
          of quesse are: modifed left-curl (am I right to assume that this is the
          one you refer to as "a very narrow modified left-curl...hasty and a
          little angular <s>?) plus A-tehta plus bar (for preceding nasal).

          In the third copy of the King's Letter, we have modified U-curl and
          E-tehta on ando, a two-luuva tengwa, yet still the two diacritic signs
          are placed on top of each other, instead of next to each other, so I
          guess "space" wasn't Tolkien's main consideration here. I think in the
          end it is a matter of taste whether one places the vowel-tehta below or
          to the right of the modified left-curl, since both are attested.]

          >
          > >> > On http://www.wfu.edu/~moran/Cathay_Cafe/IPA_NPA_4.htm
          > <http://www.wfu.edu/%7Emoran/Cathay_Cafe/IPA_NPA_4.htm> there's
          > >> > also <nü>, <lüan>, <nüe>, and <lün>.
          > >>
          > >> [[[Well, I had forgotten <nü>, granted, which contrasts with <nu>,
          > >> but the sounds <lün> and <lüan> don't exist in Mandarin (I would've
          > >> noticed after almost twenty years living among Chinese :)), there
          > >> are only <lun> and <luan>.]]]
          >
          > >Then you're certainly more reliable than that web site! There is still
          > >a chance that it might be different dialects or an older
          > >pronunciation.

          [For <lüan>, yes, this might be an _older_ pronunciation for some signs
          (see also below), for <lün> I don't think so (haven't been able to find
          any examples, neither in dictionaries nor asking native speakers for
          info...).
          As for "other dialects", I can't rule out the possibility that these
          sounds might occur in them (I certainly don't claim to know, even
          superficially, all the numerous Chinese dialects and sub-dialects!), but
          even if this was the case, it would be irrelevant here, since Pinyin is
          explicitly designed as a Romanizations system for "Putonghua", or
          Mandarin Chinese, the official language in China and the one that this
          Tengwar mode is designed for. The fact is that the Pinyin symbols would
          a very poor tool for transcribing other dialects such as those of
          Canton, Hunan or Fujian.]

          > >I've found sample words for <lüan> and <lün>, in a
          > >pronunciation said to be "Pekingese dialect", numbers 192 and 193 at
          > >this page: http://www.pinyin.info/romanization/murray/table_a.html
          >
          > >However, the very same site affirms that there are only <luan> and
          > ><lu>:

          [You must mean <luan> and <lun> here. Of course <lu> also exists, and
          unlike the other two, it does have a complementary spelling <lü> (i.e.
          both <lu> and <lü> are two actual and distinct pronuncations in Mandarin).]

          > >http://www.pinyin.info/romanization/hanyu/basic.html and so does
          > >the site http://www.zein.se/patrick/chinen8p.html#all . Additionally,
          > >at http://www.mandarintools.com/chardict.html number 193 is
          > >transcribed as lun2 'normal human relationships', and the same
          > >transcription is used at http://www.zhongwen.com/ where it figures as
          > >part of the words lun2-chang2 'social order governing interpersonal
          > >relations', lun2-ci4 'logical sequence', lun2-dun1 'London', and
          > >lun2-li3 'ethics'. I haven't been able to find number 192.

          [Well, it's really a rather marginal issue for our purpose here, and
          you've made it clear that the inconsistencies of Pinyin are not exactly
          your main interest :), which I understand completely, but just for the
          record: your slight confusion may have arisen from several factors. I
          looked at a few of the links you gave above, and I found that they were
          either too old (and thus used rather outdated spellings quite different
          from Pinyin) or simply wrong.

          To name one example
          (http://www.pinyin.info/romanization/murray/table_a.html) which gives
          Chinese characters and thus allowed me to check what actual
          pronuncations were meant by certain transcriptions, here I found that
          the spelling <lüan> (no. 192 in the chart) was actually used for a
          character (meaning "love, to love, be fond of" etc.) that in Pinyin is
          spelled <lian>, i.e. the <ü> was used for <i>.

          As for the spelling of <lun> (no.193)(the one you quote above correctly
          as the character used in lun2ci4, lun2dun1, lun2li3), it is given in the
          same chart as <lün>, but in Pinyin, this would be <lun>, spelled
          identical with character no. 196 in that chart (which means "discuss,
          opinion, idea, statement, argue, mention..."); the only difference
          between them is that no.193 is in the second and no.196 in the fourth
          tone. I am not sure what the rationale is for these spellings, but I do
          know what the Pinyin spellings are like. It is, that much is sure, an
          outdated Romanization system (looks a lot like Wade-Giles, but I didn't
          check every character). Of course, when reading older scholarly works on
          China/the Chinese language, you may still encounter this spelling system
          (and other, non-Pinyin ones, very frequently.

          As for charts like
          (http://www.pinyin.info/romanization/hanyu/basic.html), I'm at a loss to
          explain the spelling <lün> here, it certainly occurs in none of my
          dictionaries (from China, Hong Kong or Taiwan), and on this site even
          the Zhuyin Fuhao (or BoPoMoFo) version of that sound is spelled as <lCn>
          (i.e. the "wrong" sign in the middle), so it doesn't just seem to be a
          slip-up. Apart from that problem, the chart is correct and as far as I
          can tell (didn't count the syllables, eh), complete, i.e. the syllables
          listed are identical to those you'll find in authoritative dictionaries
          from China, such as the Xin1hua2 Zi4dian3.

          I think the best site among the above is
          http://www.zein.se/patrick/chinen8p.html#all, not only does it have what
          looks like a complete and correct list of syllabes, but it also provides
          a lucid explanation on the <u>/<ü> dichotomy.

          To sum it up: there is no <lüan> and no <lün> in Pinyin (although <lüan>
          does occur in some Taiwan dictionaries as an older pronuncation for a
          very few [and rare] characters that in Standard Mandarin, as transcribed
          by Pinyin, are pronounced <luan>).

          As I said, these are marginal issues, and part of the beauty of your
          Mandarin mode is that it could easily transcribe such older
          spellings/sounds as well. Anyway, I'm going to start writing some
          Chinese poems in Tengwar soon...and I'm sure it'll look every bit as
          good as calligraphy with Chinese characters (which is also very
          beautiful, of course)----well, as good as my skills allow :).

          If there's one little thing I might like to do a little different in the
          Chinese mode, it is the placing of the tonal signs in the special case
          that under-dots are also required. You write in your "corrected version"
          that "I'd also suggest not to place them immediately below the lúvar, in
          order to leave some space for a possible double dot below."

          I would prefer to place the under-dots immediately below the luuvar
          instead, and put the tonal sign under them. (Of course this would be
          irrelevant in a syllable like <diao>, since here the tonal sign goes
          under uure which carries the A-tehta, etc.) This is not for aesthetic
          reasons (I have no preference on that count), but I think this might
          better reflect the fact that the tones are an "additional" feature
          (albeit a very important one, as anyone having learnt Chinese will
          agree), superimposed on the basic sound of the syllable if you like.
          Since the two under-dots belong to the "basic sound", I wouldn't like
          the tonal sign to "come between" the palatal/Y-sign and the tengwar.

          But this is only a minor point, and of course spelling it your way is
          just as easily understood.]

          Hísilómë








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