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

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  • 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 1 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
      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.]


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