Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

English orthographic tehta mode diphthongs

Expand Messages
  • David J. Finnamore
    I m attempting to conform my English language happy new year message to orthographic tehta mode spelling per Måns Björkman s page
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 1, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      I'm attempting to conform my English language happy new year message
      to orthographic tehta mode spelling per Måns Björkman's page
      http://at.mansbjorkman.net/teng_general_english.htm

      However, many Qs are left unanswered there. My biggest one at present
      is, Should diphthongs between consonants be spelled phonemically
      always, never, only when they are spelled with one letter in English,
      or by some other rule of thumb?

      For example, when transliterating very literally, it seems logical to
      spell the diphthong in "great" with an accute accent over an a-tengwa:
      the second letter carries the first one. It may not be phonemically
      correct, but it is orthographically consistent. (It may also be
      highly unorthodox for all I know.) But with words like "write" and
      "mind," it seems inadequate to represent the "ai" sound merely by
      placing a dot over the following tengwa, which would be the strictest
      orthographical transcription. Per Lindberg's chart indicates an "ay"
      (triple dots over anna) for that diphthong, although his context there
      may be Sindarin rather than English -- it's not quite clear to me.

      The reason I'm skewing toward orthographic rather than the more
      phonemic approach I started with is that, after pondering it a while,
      it seems to me that languages that have dozens of common homonyms,
      like modern English does, are not very well represented phonemically.
      One could easily encounter situations where the context would not
      make it clear which English word was meant. You know, if you wanted
      to tell a wright to write the right rite on the right. OK, that was
      pretty silly, but you know what I mean. If you wanted to avoid
      inadvertently calling Claude a clod. Stuff like that. So, a certain
      amount of transliteration is almost inevitable even in the most
      phonemic of English spellings.

      It's logically possible (though perhaps considered in poor taste?) to
      take English spelling to the extreme orthographical end of the
      spectrum, but not to the extreme phonemical end (if you wish to be
      clear). I suppose one could go with phomenic except where a
      distinction would be helpful, and then add a tengwa or two for
      clarification; like putting a "w" on the front of "r(ai)t" for
      "write." If one had the full DTS library to hand, one could see how
      Tolkien did it. But this one doesn't, and shant be able to afford
      them all any time soon.

      David "Daeron" Finnamore
      http://www.elvenminstrel.com
    • j_mach_wust
      David Daeron Finnamore wrote: ... Always if you re writing phonemically, never if you re not. ... This is however exactly what Tolkien has done, for instance
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 1, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        David "Daeron" Finnamore wrote:
        ...
        > Should diphthongs between consonants be spelled
        > phonemically always, never, only when they are spelled with one
        > letter in English, or by some other rule of thumb?

        Always if you're writing phonemically, never if you're not.

        ...
        > with words like
        > "write" and "mind," it seems inadequate to represent the "ai" sound
        > merely by placing a dot over the following tengwa, which would be
        > the strictest orthographical transcription.

        This is however exactly what Tolkien has done, for instance in words
        such as "I" (DTS 10), "Michael" (DTS 62) or "find" (DTS 10).

        ...
        > The reason I'm skewing toward orthographic rather than the more
        > phonemic approach I started with is that, after pondering it a
        > while, it seems to me that languages that have dozens of common
        > homonyms, like modern English does, are not very well represented
        > phonemically. One could easily encounter situations where the
        > context would not make it clear which English word was meant. You
        > know, if you wanted to tell a wright to write the right rite on the
        > right. OK, that was pretty silly, but you know what I mean. If you
        > wanted to avoid inadvertently calling Claude a clod. Stuff like
        > that. So, a certain amount of transliteration is almost inevitable
        > even in the most phonemic of English spellings.

        I disagree. If two words that are pronounced the same really were a
        source of confusion, then people would start pronouncing them
        differently (for instance by replacing one of the words or by
        specifying it). The fact that people don't do that proves that there's
        no need for a distinction of these two words in pronunciation (or in a
        transcription based on pronunciation). Of course, it is possible to
        make up unclear sentences, but nobody would speak like that, except
        when making a joke.

        ...
        > I suppose one could go with phomenic except where a
        > distinction would be helpful, and then add a tengwa or two for
        > clarification; like putting a "w" on the front of "r(ai)t" for
        > "write." If one had the full DTS library to hand, one could see how
        > Tolkien did it.
        ...

        I first assumed there would be no samples, but I found one: Tolkien
        has used the same transcription for the words "hour" (DTS 18) and
        "our" (DTS 23). This proves your hypothesis wrong that Tolkien's
        phonemic modes could have exceptions for homophones.

        If you want to keep orthographic distinctions of homophones, then you
        can write according to the traditional orthography. We don't know for
        sure why Tolkien sometimes wrote phonemically and sometimes
        orthographically. My theory is that he only used the orthographic
        approach as a concession to the public, while privately preferring
        phonemic transcriptions. If I remember correctly, then all tengwar
        texts that were meant to be read by others are orthographic. Tolkien
        also seems to have started with the phonemic approach, as we only know
        phonemic transcriptions in Tolkien's early alphabets. However, there
        aren't any signs that he was skewing towards the orthographic
        approach, since phonemic texts are among the latest ones.

        ---------------------------
        j. 'mach' wust
        http://machhezan.tripod.com
        ---------------------------
      • David J. Finnamore
        Well, that s good two no. Less agonizing over which characters to chews. People named Claude aren t going to be very happy about it, though. Will try to
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 1, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          Well, that's good two no. Less agonizing over which characters to
          chews. People named Claude aren't going to be very happy about it,
          though. Will try to make sure they don't over here us, just too bee nice.

          Confusion can arise inadvertently in modern English more easily than
          you might think. It's not a very tidy language. Imagine writing an
          article in phonemic English tehta mode and titling a section:

          "Silme dot-over-long-carrier [space] Calma Anna+accute-accent Númen
          Anga" (or perhaps "Anga+over-tilde" instead of "Númen Anga")

          Is it "Sea Change" or "See Change"? You want article headings to
          prepare the reader for what he's about to read, not make him read the
          section to figure out what the heading means.

          --- In elfscript@yahoogroups.com, "j_mach_wust" <j_mach_wust@y...> wrote:
          [snip]
          > If two words that are pronounced the same really were a
          > source of confusion, then people would start pronouncing them
          > differently (for instance by replacing one of the words or by
          > specifying it). The fact that people don't do that proves that there's
          > no need for a distinction of these two words in pronunciation

          It's certainly strong evidence that the issue is not pressing in daily
          conversation. But languages don't develop predictably, and what is
          done by masses of people can seldom be explained logically. Just
          because everyone does something doesn't prove that it's a good or wise
          thing to do, nor even that it's helpful toward a goal they might be
          supposed collectively to be motivated to seek. All we like sheep have
          gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and all that.


          [snip]
          > Tolkien
          > has used the same transcription for the words "hour" (DTS 18) and
          > "our" (DTS 23). This proves your hypothesis wrong that Tolkien's
          > phonemic modes could have exceptions for homophones.

          I don't think the issue can be put to bed quite that easily. I admit
          that it's likely enough that Tolkien didn't worry much about confusion
          over homonyms in phonemic spelling. But a single instance of a pair
          of homonyms spelled the same way is hardly proof. The fact that the
          examples are from different documents further weakens their usefulness
          as evidence for any argument at all. He was probably not thinking
          about how he spelled the earlier one at the time he wrote the later
          one. Besides, as you know, he used his languages and scripts somewhat
          flexibly, made changes over time, and modified them to suit the needs
          of the task at hand. He used them as an artist, not as a scientist.
          I don't know much yet, but I do know that like the rest of us of
          mortal kin, he wasn't completely consistent, and sometimes he even
          made mistakes. The assertion in question is a universal negative, and
          the dear professor isn't around to ask, so, it can't really be proven
          one way or the other. But, as I say, I don't doubt the possibility.


          [snip]
          > My theory is that he only used the orthographic
          > approach as a concession to the public, while privately preferring
          > phonemic transcriptions. If I remember correctly, then all tengwar
          > texts that were meant to be read by others are orthographic. Tolkien
          > also seems to have started with the phonemic approach, as we only know
          > phonemic transcriptions in Tolkien's early alphabets. However, there
          > aren't any signs that he was skewing towards the orthographic
          > approach, since phonemic texts are among the latest ones.

          That sounds compelling. It certainly squares with the illustration in
          the Lay of Leithien in HoMe 3.

          Well, it'll be good practice for me to do it both weighs.

          David "Daeron" Finnamore
          http://www.elvenminstrel.com
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.