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Barry Garcia wrote at 2004-01-22 09:49:14 (-0800)
 > Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]> writes:
 > >Basically that, at best, it accurately reflects the pronunciation
 > >in the speech of 7th century Yarlung, while the spoken Tibetan
 > >language(s) have undergone significant phonological changes in the
 > >interim.  In particular, the orthography is full of formidable
 > >consonant clusters which are not pronounced in the modern
 > >language.
 >
 > What i don't get is why when Tibetan is written in the Latin
 > alphabet, they insist on transcribing the unpronounced consonant
 > clusters, rather than an orthography that *better* fits how it's
 > pronounced (yes, i know, Latin orthography wouldn't be perfect, but
 > at least you'd see what the spoken language looks like better if
 > you had a closer representation (and i HAVE seen the latin
 > transcription, as well as the IPA one).
 >

The (Extended) Wylie transcription, yes... Well, as I understand it
(and again, I'll gladly yield to more experienced Tibetanists... fate
has repeatedly thwarted my efforts to acquire a textbook*) the first
reason is that Tibet has a single written language but no single
spoken one; rather there are many mutually unintelligible dialects.
The situation is in this respect similar to that in China.  Also, if
you're studying literary Tibetan, it's obviously more important to be
able to spell the words than to pronounce them.  Some words are
apparently pronounced differently when reading from a text than in
ordinary conversation, which further complicates the matter of
producing an adequate phonemic transcription.

Still, efforts have been made.  Have a look here:
http://iris.lib.virginia.edu/tibet/xml/showEssay.php?xml=/collections/langling/THDL_phonetics.xml



* Has anyone here used Tournadre & Dorje's _Manual of Standard
  Tibetan_?  That's what I'm going to try to get next time I have the
  money.