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On Mon, 26 Jan 2004 13:07:40 +0100, Benct Philip Jonsson <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

>At 01:48 26.1.2004, Trebor Jung wrote:
>>Why not use, say, bh for /B/, lh for /K/, ng for /N/,
>>ngg for /ng/, nq for /N\/, zh for /Z/, gh for /G/...?
>
>I suppose that your taste is influenced by the fact that you
>have to use voice reading software (is that the word?), and
>want something that your software can make some kind of sense
>out of, but IMHO digraphs (trigraphs, n-graphs -- I prefer to
>call them "polygraphs") are extremely ugly -- *especially* the
>arbitrary use of +h to indicate all manner of fricatives for
>which the Latin alphabet is deficient!

On the other hand, the heavy use of mixed case (which reminds me of
tlhIngan Hol) is also ugly. At least digraphs have a precedent in the
writing systems of numerous languages. If Swahili doesn't have a problem
with using "dh" for /D/, why not use it? Hindi /dh/ could be spelled "d'h"
or "d-h". And "lh" certainly seems better than any single-character
alternative for /K/. Trigraphs are less common, but German for instance has
"sch" for /S/, and polygraphs are found wherever there's a need to believe
you can tell when someone is lying. :-)

Actually, the only reason I use X-SAMPA is that I don't have to explain the
symbols every time I use them, and none of the alternatives have caught on.
I wouldn't mind an alternative that used a few digraphs, since using
"monographs" for everything is practically impossible in ASCII. While
X-SAMPA manages to avoid digraph letters, the use of multiple diacritics
for sounds like [r\`] and [J\_<] (which are single symbols in IPA) is
annoying. Especially ugly is the [|\|\] for an alveolar lateral click. Then
you have the ambiguities, like whether [n_m] is a simultaneous [n] and [m]
or a laminal [n].

>  Moreover polygraphs are
>inherently ambiguous: is 'th' a dental fricative, an aspirated
>top or is it an extention of Pinyin conventions and stands for a
>retroflex stop?

It's all a matter of convention; it isn't any worse than the choice between
using "T" for a dental fricative or a retroflex stop. If you have a
convention that "th" is a dental fricative, "t'h" an aspirated stop, and
"rt" a retroflex stop, there isn't a problem. (Of course, if "rt" is a
retroflex stop, you'll have to use something like "r't" for /rt/, which is
probably more common than /t`/. So at some point you need to start bringing
in punctuation and say that /t`/ is represented as "t.", or use the
tlhIngan Hol convention and write "T".)

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