Well, I was a bit hasty in my last mail.
I wrote that "io" does not occur after consonants, but what I really
meant was that it does not occur (after consonants) as the _final
part_ of a syllable. In other words, it only appears _between_ two
consonants, more specifically in the combinations "xiong, qiong,
jiong" (as I actually mentioned two years ago when I first worked on
a Chinese Mode but never got anywhere until J. 'Mach' Wust came up
with his great proposal).
Therefore, I was obviously also wrong to write that the "spelling
with two under-dots and O-tehta doesn't occur at all in Mandarin"--
here it does, and the theoretical alternative with I-tehta on top of
uure would probably have to be rejected for the same reason as the
spellings with under-dots/modified left-curl for "iu/ui" (at least
that's how I felt when I wrote the previous mail, see below): to make
sure that the "dominant" vowel (in this case clearly "o", as is also
reflected in the Mandarin Phonetic Symbol system [aka "bopomofo"]
still used almost exclusively in Taiwan) is expressed with a tehta.
As for "iu, ui", BTW, after further reflection, and some "discussion"
with Chinese native speakers, I find that the situation is quite
For example, Beijing dialect speakers (and modern Mandarin was
originally based largely on the Beijing dialect, which is thus in
principle considered the standard for pronunciation) seem indeed to
pronounce a word like "liu" ("six") with "i" as the more "prominent"
element in the diphthong. But only when, as here, it's in the fourth
tone. In the pronunciation of other words, like "liu" (first, second
or third tone) or "diu" (first tone), it seems that the "u"
And in southern China or Taiwan (i.e. in the pronunciation of
Mandarin in these areas, not the local dialects [which have a rather
different sound and tonal system]) it's even harder to tell.
Generally, I'd say it's kind of an "amalgam" in which both elements
contribute equally much to the diphthong's sound, and often it would
seem that (still focussing on "iu, ui") the second element is
actually a bit "drawn out" and thus could be described as the one
that's given more emphasis.
To sum up, while for "xiong, qiong, jiong" I'd say it is clearly
the "o" that should be spelled with a tehta, I'm not quite so sure
about emphasizing the first element in "iu, ui" anymore. There seems
to be no neat solution here, therefore I after all tend to feel that
(-iu): Tengwa + I-tehta on top of uure
OR double dot under tengwa and U-tehta on top of it
(-ui): Tengwa + U-tehta on top of yanta
OR modified left-curl and I-tehta on top of tengwa
are plausible, and should thus both be considered correct (they are
definitely both comprehensible--no matter which solution you prefer,
there would be no ambiguity).