Proposed Phonemic Tehtar Mode for English
- My webpage http://www.geocities.com/otsoandor/FTMME.htm shows my
proposal for _full_tengwar_ modes for Modern English. Below is a
proposal on a phonemic _tehtar_ mode for English, on which I would
like to receive critical feedback.
Thank you all!
- - - - -
PROPOSED PHONEMIC TEHTAR MODE FOR ENGLISH
by Ronald Kyrmse - certur@...
J.R.R.Tolkien himself, and many of his followers, have devised
varying methods for writing English phonemically using tengwar and
tehtar. I propose yet another, trying to keep it as simple and logical
as possible, while at the same time not deviating overmuch from JRRT's
usage. I trust that the viewpoint of a non-native speaker of English
will be sufficiently bias-free.
In the following text I will sometimes refer to phonetic symbols by
a description in square brackets [ ]. This will be done in order to
avoid referring to glyphs that "normal" ASCII text cannot handle.
Tengwar and tehtar will be designated either by their names or by
descriptions, in pointed brackets < >.
I do not think there is much controversy about how to represent
most of the consonant phonemes of English. The following list is
almost a consensus among authors writing English phonemically with
tengwar. There also seems to exist a consensus to the effect that a
vowel-tehta is written on the tengwa for the following consonant.
p <parma>, b <umbar>
t <tinco>, d <ando>
k <quesse>, g <ungwe>
f <formen>, v <ampa>
th <thúle>, dh <anto> - as in _THorn_, _THis_
s <silme (nuquerna)>, z <esse (nuquerna)>
sh <aha>, zh <anca> - as in _SHort_, _meaSure_
m <malta>, n <númen>, ng <nwalme> - as in _My_, _No_, _riNG_
r <rómen> (Note 1)
ch <calma>, j <anga> - as in _CHeck_, _Job_
w <vilya>, y <anna> (Note 2), wh <hwesta sindarinwa> (Note 3)
Note 1: This is the _r_ sound that all speakers of English
pronounce, as in _Round_ (initial) or _bRight_ (medial). On that _r_
which is not necessarily pronounced by all, as in _theRe_, _foR_,
_toweR_, see below.
Note 2: These are as in _Wet_, _You_; not the _-w_ and _-y_ as
final elements of diphthongs. On these latter, see Note 6 below.
Note 3: The _wh_ sound as in _WHich_, for those who pronounce this
word differently from _witch_.
VOWELS AND DIPHTHONGS
The real controversy arises when it comes to representing the
vowels and diphthongs (and triphthongs, in some pronunciations) of
English. David Crystal, on p. 237 of "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of
the English Language", uses the system by British phonetician
A.C.Gimson ("An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English") and
gives the words below to illustrate each sound. I propose the tengwar
/ tehtar uses at the end of each entry.
_Amatehta_ and _unutehta_ stand for a tehta above and below the
tengwa respectively; unless otherwise indicated, all the tehtar
proposed are amatehtar.
<O-curl> and <u-curl> denote curls open to the right and left
respectively, as in normal Quenya mode, not as in the
Ring-inscription, which is in Black Speech and inverts this use.
While it is not strictly true (phonetically speaking) that the
vowels in _sea_, _calm_, _all_, _soon_ are the respective "long"
versions of those in _him_, _sat_, _dog_, _put_, writing those in the
first group with a tehta on a <long carrier>, and those in the second
group with a tehta on a consonant tengwa or a <short carrier>, is
clear enough and will cause no confusion to any reader. From a
phonetic viewpoint, for instance, normal Modern English pronunciation
uses no "long _ae_" (the long version of the vowel in _sat_). JRRT did
use an <inverted a-tehta> (three dots in a triangle pointing
downwards) for Anglo-Saxon _ae_, but, as explained, we do not have to
use it; furthermore it does not exist in all tengwar fonts.
As an alternative, some tehtar given as "on long carrier" may be
written double. This is possible with the <dot>, the <o-curl> and the
<u-curl>; a double triangle of dots would be almost illegible, and
impossible to write with most current tengwar fonts. The <circumflex>,
in Quenya spelling an alternative to the <three dots>, has been
adopted for the vowel in _sun_ due to a similarity between this sound
and a short _a_, and the availability of this tehta in most tengwar
sea, feet, me, field = i: [lowercase i with colon] <dot on long
him, big, vIllage, wOmen = I [small-cap i] <dot>
get, fetch, head, Thames = e [lowercase e] <acute accent>
sat, hand, ban, plait = ae [a+e-ligature] <three dots in triangle
sun, son, blood, does = ^ [inverted v] <circumflex accent>
calm, are, fAther, car = a: [manuscript a with colon] <three dots in
triangle pointing up on long carrier>
dog, lock, swan, cough = [inverted manuscript a] <o-curl>
all, saw, cord, more = [inverted c with colon] <o-curl on long
put, wolf, good, look = U [inverted capital omega] <u-curl>
soon, do, soup, shoe = u: [lowercase u with colon] <u-curl on long
bird, her, turn, learn = 3: [inverted epsilon with colon] <long
carrier + óre> (Note 4)
the, buttER, sofA, About = [schwa, or inverted e] <unutehta dot or
short carrier> (Note 5)
DIPHTHONGS: (Note 6)
ape, waist, they, say = eI [lowercase e + small-cap i] <yanta + acute
time, cry, die, high = aI [a + small-cap i] <yanta + three dots in
triangle pointing up>
boy, toy, noise, voice = [inverted c + small-cap i] <yanta + o-curl>
so, road, toe, know = [schwa + inverted capital omega] <úre +
out, how, house, found = aU [a or manuscript a + inverted capital
omega] <úre + three dots in triangle pointing up>
deer, here, fierce, near = [small-cap i + schwa] <óre + dot>
care, air, bare, bear = [e + schwa] <óre + acute accent>
poor, sure, tour, lure = [inverted capital omega + schwa] <óre +
Note 4: This is a long vowel (reason for the <long carrier>) that
does not occur in any other context, followed - in some pronunciations
- by an _r_ sound (reason for <óre>).
Note 5: The <unutehta dot>, also called _unuticse_ (wrongly spelled
_nuntixë_ in the published "Etymologies") signifies the
vowel denoted by schwa, and may also be used under syllabic
consonants, as in _voweL_, _commoN_, _bottoM_. A <short carrier>
should be used in word-initial position, as in _About_.
Note 6: This supposes - not too accurately, but closely enough for
practical purposes - that English diphthongs are composed of a vowel
plus a final element equivalent to one of the semivowels _w_ or _y_;
these latter are therefore written as <úre> and <yanta>
Triphthongs formed by adding schwa to the _-w_ or _-y_ diphthongs
(such as in _plAYER_, _fIRE_, lOWER_, tOWER_) are spelled with a final
I would appreciate criticism on this proposal.
- - - - -
- Hi Ronald Kyrmse
I like your proposal. It's almost the same as what I'd have chosen.
That is to say, I chose it a few weeks ago for a transcription of the
poem Errantry on which I started a recent thread in #4689. You may
have a look at it since in this thread, Dave and me have discussed
some of the most controversial points of such a mode. Anyway, I'm
going to write down my position again (so it becomes a little bit
> normal Modern English pronunciationTo me, this is too unambiguously attested as to drop it (and I don't
> uses no "long _ae_" (the long version of the vowel in _sat_). JRRT
> did use an <inverted a-tehta> (three dots in a triangle pointing
> downwards) for Anglo-Saxon _ae_, but, as explained, we do not have
> to use it; furthermore it does not exist in all tengwar fonts.
care about your latter point).
> The <circumflex>,The three dots version and the circumflex version are said to be a
> in Quenya spelling an alternative to the <three dots>, has been
> adopted for the vowel in _sun_ due to a similarity between this
> sound and a short _a_,
mere variant, so I dislike to make this difference distinctive. The
representation of this sound is the main problem of a phonemic tehtar
mode for English. I prefer the grave accent, even though it's only
attested for a schwa in DTS 41.
> bird, her, turn, learn = 3: [inverted epsilon with colon] <longThe attested spelling in DTS 47 (which I prefer) is óre + dot below.
> carrier + óre>
> the, buttER, sofA, About = [schwa, or inverted e] <unutehta dot or...
> short carrier> (Note 5)
> Note 5: The <unutehta dot>, also called _unuticse_ (wronglyTo me, syllabicity and schwa shouldn't be represented in the same way.
> spelled _nuntixë_ in the published "Etymologies") signifies the
> "colourless" vowel denoted by schwa, and may also be used under
> syllabic consonants, as in _voweL_, _commoN_, _bottoM_.
In the attested phonemic modes, they are distinguished. I think that
words such as _gondola_ /gond@l@/, _marjoram_ /mardZ@r@m/ with two
subsequent schwa syllables must not have a mark that could be mistaken
for a syllabic consonant mark.
I prefer to use the dot only as syllabicity marker, as attested in DTS
39 (in the word _Britain_ that has the right tehtar-tengwar order) and
in the similar use for the vowel of _turn_ seen in DTS 47. I'd
represent the schwa, on the other hand, with the grave accent, the
same tehtar I'd use as well for the vowel of _nut_.
> A <short...
> carrier> should be used in word-initial position, as in _About_.
Why so? (I've come to a similar solution, but I'm not sure about it.)
j. 'mach' wust