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I once played around with a Latin-based semi-abjad. Consonants and
stressed or "long" vowels got full letters, while unstressed vowels
were optionally written as diacritics above consonants (since in many
cases you can substitute a schwa sound without losing meaning). I
realized I didn't really know enough about English dialectal variation
to do it justice, though.

On Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 2:56 PM, Peter Cyrus <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Well, that's the principle of abjads : when there are few vowels (and
> they're grammatical, not lexical) then they can be omitted.  But try writing
> a Chinese sentence in pinyin without vowels.  It only works in English
> because our spelling is not phonemic.
>
> On Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 2:30 PM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> On Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 1:42 PM, Peter Cyrus <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> > The purpose of spoken language is also to convey meaning - why do we
>> > differentiate vowels there?
>> >
>> > I think that if you try writing in, for example, broad IPA transcription,
>> > you'd find that we do need vowels.
>>
>> For someone who speaks the language there is no need to _write out_
>> all the vowels. I can look at "g•v•rnm•nt" and since I already know
>> what the vowels are, I don't need to be told. Just as there are no
>> vowels in purely pictographic writing, even though there are vowels in
>> the speech that it represents.
>>
>> I don't doubt that IPA needs vowels, because the purpose of IPA is to
>> capture and record the SOUNDS. The purpose of writing, however, is to
>> record the meaning. If I already know the vowels in a word, and I
>> already know the SOUND of the word, and if I read, as experienced
>> readers do, by the visual shape of the word as a whole, then the
>> written vowels can be replaced with appropriately shaped place holders
>> without loss of _meaning_.
>>
>> In fact as long as the overall shape of the word is maintained, even
>> the exact placement of the consonants is flexible in ways not related
>> to the sound of the words.  The famous example is, of course:
>>
>> The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid: Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at
>> Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a
>> wrod are, t he olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer
>> be in the rgh it pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll
>> raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not
>> raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?
>> yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!
>>
>> The fact that we can read that means one thing and one thing only: It
>> WORKS as a way of written communication of meaning, even though each
>> word is scrambled enough that it no longer reflects anything useful
>> concerning the sound of the words. But we know the sounds already, so
>> we don't need for writing to tell those sounds. We don't need for
>> writing to tell us what we already know.
>>
>> --gary (Playing devil's advocate. I'm also actually a fan of English
>> spelling reform :)
>>
>