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On Sun, 21 Jan 2007 18:09:27 EST, [log in to unmask] wrote:

>In a message dated 1/20/2007 8:41:52 PM Central Standard Time,
>[log in to unmask] writes:
>
>
>> Everything said and done, Pinyin is a more regular spelling system
>> than many alphabets in the world, IMO.

What gets me is the alternations that certain finals show according to
whether there's an initial.  Who ordered <wen>~<un> and <you>~<iu> and all
that?  (Unless I'm mistaken and there is a phonetic difference there...)

>But it could have been even better:
>(pinyin, my proposal)
>s     s          c     ts          z     ds
>sh   j           ch    tj         zh   dj
>x     x          q    tx         j      dx
>
>This way the relationships among the different letters/sounds is obvious.

At first I was going to say that <j> doesn't really suggest retroflexion to
me, and if you'd only thrown a <z> in there you could have had
Mandarin-disguised-as-Basque.  

But then I realized that you can't leave out the velar series: it's pretty
parallel to these three, phonologically.  So <h k g> should actually be <h
th dh>.  And why stop there?  What the romanization of Mandarin _really_
needs is a stribography!  (Warning: spelling proposal by utter non-speaker
ahead!)

= Consonants = (in onsets and rimes)
== Manner (and phonation) ==
<0> fricative
<t> aspirated stop/affricate
<d> unaspirated stop/affricate
<n> nasal (from Pete Bleackley's seminal work)
<l> approximant, or if you prefer voiced fricative

== Place ==
<0> alveolar nonstrident (this way <t>, <d>, <n>, <l> can stand for themselves)
<s> alveolar strident
<r> retroflex (<j> doesn't feel right here; besides, we need it elsewhere. 
<r> is Pete's usage)
<x> alveolopalatal
<h> velar (keeping the fricative-letter theme)
<f> labial

which amounts to
Pinyin <b  p  m  f d t n l g  k  h 0  j  q  x zh ch sh r  z  c  s>
stribo <df tf nf f d t n l dh th h lh dx tx x dr tr r  lr ds ts s>

= Vowelly stuff =
The analysis of Mandarin that gives it only two vowels /a @/ with some
syllables vowelless (as on Wikipedia) is natural for stribography: they'll
be <a e>.  Glides are written just as in Gwoyeu Romatzyh onglides:
<i> palatality
<u> rounding
The Pinyin consonants <n ng> are still <n nh>.  <lr> will do for erhua, but
Pinyin <er> should probably be <er>.  

= Tone =
The tone letters are stolen from Hmong, and follow the syllable.
number <1 2 3 4 0>
stribo <b v m j 0>

Converting some of a random pinyinized song
(http://pinyin.info/songs/wu_bai/norwegian_forest.html) to see what this
looks like:

lranhj lhuem dxianhb nim xienblherv draibxiaj
rjdre dxianhb tab nfanjnfanj lruenhvhuaj
thanj lhuem dsaij nim xienbdruenhb rj-feum lrenhv lhuanvnfeim lhuvxiav

rj-feum lhiblranv lhueijlhuem sbsb txianbdhuaj
lhiblranv lhaij lhuem lhuvfam dsjdfav
xienbdruenhb rj-feum lhieum lhuem lhueijtsenhv daujdhue de dijfanhb lha

All in all a bit too almost-sane to really be comparable to
htwvitbveuotkvwvahfi, I think, but there are still some nice ones in there
(<dsjdfav> looks wonderfully like someone just pounded their fingers on the
home row).  

Alex