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Re: English orthographic tehta mode diphthongs

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  • 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 1 of 3 , Jan 1, 2006
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      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 2 of 3 , Jan 1, 2006
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        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
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