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Hi all,

On Fri, 14 Oct 2005, Herman Miller wrote: 

> > 2. "Featural Alphabets" really intrigue me.  Alexander Melville 
> > Bell's "Visible Speech" system is the closest thing to a "Featural 
> > Alphabet" I've ever seen.  
> > King Sejong's Hangeul system for Korean is supposed to be a 
> > featurography, but I don't think it really is.
> > Something that had each "characteristic feature" denoted by a 
> > particular one of Gary's tinkertoys would be more of a "featural 
> > alphabet".
> > Is anyone onlist aware of any "featural alphabets" predating the 
> > existence of the ConLang list?
> > 
> > Thank you.
> > 
> > Tom H.C. in MI

> I had a sort of "featural alphabet" before the list, but it was 
> cumbersome and I never really used it. I believe it was called Atylat or 
> something like that. The Gargoyle alphabet from Ultima VI also has 
> featural elements (as much as Visible Speech or Tengwar, at least).
> 
... [snipt]
> 
> Francis Lodwick's "Essay towards an Universal Alphabet" (published in 
> 1686, and mentioned in an article in Jim Allan's book _An Introduction 
> to Elvish_) appears to be more or less a featural alphabet, as far as 
> the consonants go.
> 
> Here, I found a picture of it on an Italian web page:
> 
> http://www.soronel.it/Universalfabeto.html
> 
... [snipt]

I created a purely phonetic alphabet in 1972, mostly out 
of frustration with the IPA, which I found tedious in the
extreme for rapid transcription, which I needed to do 
while collecting material on (Western) Cham.  Several of
my Cham friends had asked me to help them devise a
suitable romanisation.  Apart from helping me with generous
doses of conversation, and tapes of "kebuon" - traditional
wisdom recited in couplets - they also provided me with 
some old written material using two different scripts - one 
based on the Indian script introduced to the Kingdom of 
Champa by one of its rulers, and the other based on Jawi,
the adaptation of Arabic as used by the Malays of Kelantan
among other places.  This "featural" alphabet had no name
and little use, because I soon determined that we could 
romanise Cham using only the modern English alphabet plus 
one new symbol, or digraph.  I left it to them to decide
whether to write /bh/ or to mark a /b/ in some other way
- I suggested a dot under it, or /b'/ - whatever they found 
easier.  As several of my friends corresponded regularly
between Kompong Som in Cambodia and Kota Bharu in 
Kelantan, most by handwritten letter but some by type
writer, the final choice depended on their convenience.

My phonetic alphabet was basically a stylised diagram of 
methods and points of articulation, using straight lines
and dots.  I've still got it  ... somewhere! :-)

Obviously, Francis Lodwick's Universal Alphabet beats
mine by centuries, and even the IPA beats it by a long
stretch.

Regards,
Yahya


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