At 18:49 22.1.2004, Barry Garcia wrote:

>What i don't get is why when Tibetan is written in the Latin alphabet,
>they insist on transcribing the unpronounced consonant clusters, rather

Because the 'silent' consonants provide clues to
the correct pronunciation.  E.g. written BA is
pronounced [p_hA:_L] (aspirated consonant, low tone)
while written SBA is pronounced [pA:_L]
(*un*aspirated consonant, low tone), PA is pronounced
[pA:_H] (unaspirated high tone) BRA is [t`_hA:_L]
while PRA is [t`A:_H]; TO is pronounced [to:_H] while
TOS is pronounced [t2:_H] etc. etc.

Also scholars need to be able to 'reconstruct' the actual
spelling in Tibetan characters on the spot, not least since
classical Tibetan texts contain many words and morphemes that
are homophones in the modern pronunciation.

Third the modern 'dialects' differ so much between each other
that no single 'phonemic' orthography would do justice to them
all.  This is, however, does *not* mean that a modest spelling
reform would not be posssible, or desirable from some POVs.
However Tibetans tend to view the classical language and its
spelling as sacrosanct, and that is the end of the story for
at least another generation to come.

Lastly there are 'phone*ic' that are used in non-linguistic,
non-scholarly contexts, and no shortage of systems at that.
To take an example my Dharma name is [NA:_LB_oAN_H dz\i~b@]
is _ngag.dbang.sbyin.pa_ in transcribed orthography,
_Ngawang Jinba_ when I transcribe it 'Englishy' and
_Ngawang Dzjinba_ when I transcribe it 'Swedishy'.  Note
that none of the two simplified transcriptions give
any accurate clue to tones, or to vowel qualities!

/BP 8^)
B.Philip Jonsson mailto:[log in to unmask] (delete X)
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