Print

Print


Perhaps I am using the terms "phonetic" and "phonemic" incorrectly.  My
intent is to capture the elements of spoken language at the level at which
speakers and listeners are aware of them.  I don't want people to have to be
linguists to read and write.

Having said that, the letters *are* defined by general articulatory
mechanism, e.g. *t * is an unvoiced coronal plosive, which covers the range
from dental to postalveolar, and from tenuis to aspirated.  Maybe what I
mean by "phonemic" is simply "fuzzy phonetic" in your view.

To illustrate the distinction I'm trying to make, English written in Shwa
would not use the Shwa letters for aspirated plosives to write *p t ch k* at
the onset of stressed syllables, even though those sounds *are* aspirated in
that context in English, and even though Shwa has dedicated letters for
aspirated plosives, because those are "phonetic" allophones of underlying
"phonemes".   The letters for the phonemes are not marked as aspirated, but
neither are they dedicated to unaspirated sounds, so they are not being
"phonetically-defined" in a narrow sense, e.g. enough to write it in IPA.

In contrast, English in Shwa *does* note reduced vowels, such as the *o* in
*atom* and the *a* in *atomic*.  Shwa has a large and expandable set of
consonants, but only a fixed inventory of 12 (monophthongal) vowels, so the
transcription of vowels is more "phonetic", albeit less specific than IPA
(with its 28 vowels and numerous diacritics).  My feeling is that even
though it is a "phonological" process, downstream of phonemes, that reduces
vowels in English (or retracts vowels next to emphatic consonants in
Standard Arabic, another similar example), English speakers are aware of it
: they *hear* vowel reduction.

Shwa is simply a script - it's up to the users of languages (and their
academies) to use it well.  For example, voiced plosives *b d **g*
open to *bh dh
gh* intervocalically in Spanish, but it is not up to me whether
Hispanophones choose to write that change or not - my role is simply to
provide them with the letters they need.  I'm not enshrining any analyses
(although I chose one to illustrate Spanish on the site).

Your final point is that "any given language would be better served by its
own script rather than Shwa".  In practice, quite the opposite is true, to
the limits of my experience : I haven't encountered a better writing system
for *any* language (although I admire Hangul and Shavian)!  By "better", I
mean that Shwa generally adds missing letters (like English *sh th ch ng) *,
consolidates duplicate letters (like English *c k q x*), uses fewer strokes
when writing by hand, less space on a page, and fewer keys on a keyboard.
 In addition, Shwa letters are featural (letters that sound alike resemble
each other), universal and usable in several gaits (not prejudiced towards
alphabets).  Those are the features I was trying to maximize.

Surely you don't think that the Latin alphabet is the perfect orthography
for English!  We have assigned letters and combinations of letters to the
phonemes of English by convention, and Shwa does the same thing, just
better.  What are the problems with Shwa that the arbitrariness and
unfitness-for-purpose of Latin orthography solve?

On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 2:19 PM, And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Sam is right about the problems of a phonetic script, but I don't recall
> ever having seen a full proposal for a phonetically-based orthography, and
> Peter has explained that his script is phonemic. The phonemic differences
> among english dialects are considerable, but not necessarily to the point
> of
> being a serious barrier to mutual intelligibility (when written in phonemic
> orthography).
>
> By way of the feedback Peter was soliciting, I'd voice some objections to
> his scheme. The first is that (IMO) it is nonsensical to use
> phonetically-defined symbols for phonemes. A phoneme can have a very
> heterogeneous allophonic range and it can overlap with another phoneme's.
> And a given phone can be an unambiguous realization of one phoneme in one
> environment and of another phoneme in another environment. And different
> dialects use very different realizations, so basing phonemes' symbols on
> realization either privileges certain dialects (that have standard phoneme
> symbols based on their realization in that accent) or turns into a quasi
> phonetic orthography if different dialects get different symbols.
>
> A second objection is that phonemic analyses are rough and ready - a given
> analysis may be good enough for a certain job, e.g. for representing
> pronunciations in a dictionary, but that doesn't mean it's the Best
> analysis
> or the Right analysis. So how would Shwa go about deciding which analysis
> to
> enshrine in the orthography?
>
> Lastly, a morphophonologically based orthography (i.e. one that abstracts
> away from phonologically-conditioned alternations and perhaps from all
> allomorphy) would arguably be superior. Harder for a child to learn to
> read,
> but a truer representation of the lexicon.
>
> Having said all this, if you were designing one script to serve every
> language, it's not easy to see how to improve on Shwa's approach. But given
> that my points amount to saying that any given language would be better
> served by its own script rather than Shwa, there's a sense in which the
> roman alphabet's unfitness-for-purpose is actually a virtue: it forces a
> degree of arbitrariness and language-specificity and so is less exposed to
> the problems Shwa has.
>
> -And.
>
> On 20 Jul 2011 01:40, "Sam Stutter" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> The problem I've always encountered with producing phonetic English is
> that,
> unless one drives for a dialect superiority (that is: everyone must write
> with one particular accent) one results in text which may be largely
> incomprehensible between dialect groups separated by only short distances.
> I'm writing my English and phonetically realising it ass sumthingg lak
> this,
> whereas someone 30 miles away will be realising sumtin laç this and (excuse
> my dodgy accent) a Texan might realise it airs samthin lairk thees.
>
> AFAIK the human mind is attuned to permitting variance in pronunciation,
> but
> large variances in spelling severely reduces comprehension time: try
> reading
> the homework of school kids who can't differentiate /f/ and /θ/!
>
> The benefit of a universal spelling system, despite it's numerous
> irregularities, permits communication across dialect barriers, not
> necessarily just geographic ones. It transcends the differences in speech.
> A
> universal phonetic alphabet would mean the death of individual dialects -
> we
> would all have to speak like members of the Conservative Party or LA
> millionaires :D
>
> I'm sure the same will be true of other languages, why should a Venetian
> have to think in a Roman accent?
>
> More to the point, won't there be major differences between individuals as
> well?
>
> Wot 'm se'n iss tha iff 'm wrai'n lak thiss, nu ma'u wa alfupe yu yooss i's
> still tussen mek inupussunul komyooniceshun eni isee'u.
>
> Fuh sek uff arkyumen mai trai sen'in ol mi fyuchu messachis list ful inn
> fune'ic IPA...
>
> Wi ol mai haf uh ko a tha? Huss wi mi?
>
>
> On 20 Jul 2011, at 00:02, Larry Sulky <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > Would Shwah spelling differe...
>