Re: English orthographic tehta mode diphthongs
- David "Daeron" Finnamore wrote:
> Should diphthongs between consonants be spelledAlways if you're writing phonemically, never if you're not.
> phonemically always, never, only when they are spelled with one
> letter in English, or by some other rule of thumb?
> with words likeThis is however exactly what Tolkien has done, for instance in words
> "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.
such as "I" (DTS 10), "Michael" (DTS 62) or "find" (DTS 10).
> The reason I'm skewing toward orthographic rather than the moreI disagree. If two words that are pronounced the same really were a
> 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.
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
- 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 email@example.com, "j_mach_wust" <j_mach_wust@y...> wrote:
> 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.
> 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.
> 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