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  1. #1
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    Default Re-Romanization of English

    Hi everybody!

    I would appreciate any comments and opinion of yours regarding the site titled "Re-Romanization of English", URL

    http://members.lycos.co.uk/rre/

    The paper featured there introduces a twenty-two letter system providing a diacritic-free, easy and simple phonemic orthography for the English language.

    In greater detail, the paper also narrates the history of creation and officialization of the 1995 Streamlined System for the English transliteration of Bulgarian.

    The latter system has been used in the process of designing the former, which however is self-contained and could have been designed from another starting point instead, with no reference to Cyrillic or Bulgarian which are NOT part of it. Indeed, the Basic Roman Spelling of English requires no knowledge of Cyrillic alphabet, Slavic languages etc. While not specifically proposed as an English spelling reform, this new approach could possibly be of some academic and educational interest I believe.

    Apcbg

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    It could be used as an alternative way of transcribing sounds as many learners don't like using phonemic script.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    No, I can't see it having any serious application at all.

    The biggest problem is that it brings together many sounds that are in fact different phonemes and perceived by native speakers as totally different sounds, even if they sound the same to a Bulgarian. Most problematic is the grapheme 'a', used to represent at least four different phonemes. Words like "bat" and "but", which sound entirely different in most dialects of English, would be spelled the same. On the other hand, a distinction is made between the "a" in "ask" and in "farm", but these are the same phoneme in most dialects.

    Also, "r" is not written where it is not pronounced in non-rhotic dialects, which means that in many British dialects, the words "hat", "heart" and "hut" could all be spelled identically.

    Given these problems, not only is this not a good proposal for spelling reform, it's useless as a phonetic script.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    what is wrong with IPA? it was the first thing we had to learn at school. and you don't have to be Einstein to understand it. and once you learn it you can pronounce almost every word in the dictionary. learners don't like many things becuse they find it difficult. can't really understand this. entropy is everywhere. wish I was a light year away from these "take it easy man" people

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    Dear Tdol, Rewboss & Light:
    Many thanks for your comments. A couple of remarks.
    (Quote)
    ... a distinction is made between the "a" in "ask" and in "farm", but these are the same phoneme in most dialects ... "r" is not written where it is not pronounced in non-rhotic dialects, which means that in many British dialects, the words "hat", "heart" and "hut" could all be spelled identically.
    (End of quote)
    The phonemic approach stipulates that you write what you pronounce – but so do the others. If you do not distinguish between ‘a’ in ‘ask’ and ‘ar’ in ‘farm’ then you write ‘ask’, ‘fam’; if you do then you write ‘ask’, ‘faam’ or whatever you pronounce.
    Same for ‘hat’ and ‘heart’.
    There is no rule to skip ‘r’ as you suggest; if you speak rhotic you write it; if not then you don’t.
    The sample text (Hamlet) adduced in the paper for illustration is no rule. Using the same Basic Roman Spelling people speaking differently than the paper’s author would write the same text differently.
    Yes ‘bat’ and ‘but’ are spelled equally as ‘bat’ -- same like ‘hat’ and ‘hut’ are spelled ‘hat’ -- and yes the vowels are completely different. You guess the right vowel (and thus the right word) from the context. Sorry ‘u’ is reserved for a different vowel, the one in ‘book’.
    Bulgarian language has had no impact on the Basic Roman Spelling of English. However, the paper ‘On the Romanization of Bulgarian and English’ offers no adequate explanation of the Re-Romanization of English, its focus being elsewhere. That’s why I have written a brief introduction to the system that possibly gives a better idea of its essential properties. It could be seen in the same web page
    http://members.lycos.co.uk/rre/
    entry ‘Introduction to the Basic Roman Spelling of English’.
    Best, Apcbg.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    Quote Originally Posted by Apcbg
    in many British dialects, the words "hat", "heart" and "hut" could all be spelled identically.
    I know no dialect of British English in which these three words are pronounced identically. In particular, I have never encountered any dialect in which "heart" contains a short vowel.

    The phonemic approach stipulates that you write what you pronounce – but so do the others. If you do not distinguish between ‘a’ in ‘ask’ and ‘ar’ in ‘farm’ then you write ‘ask’, ‘fam’; if you do then you write ‘ask’, ‘faam’ or whatever you pronounce.
    If the system is intended to be used in everyday life, that's asking for trouble. If the system is intended to replace the IPA, it is inadequate. It has to be; there are far more vowel sounds in English than you can represent with this system, as illustrated by your comment here:

    Yes ‘bat’ and ‘but’ are spelled equally as ‘bat’ -- same like ‘hat’ and ‘hut’ are spelled ‘hat’ -- and yes the vowels are completely different. You guess the right vowel (and thus the right word) from the context. Sorry ‘u’ is reserved for a different vowel, the one in ‘book’.
    We have enough trouble in English with homographs -- different words which are spelled the same but pronounced differently. This system eliminates them all but creates new ones.

    Sorry to be so harsh, but it's hard to see what application this system could possibly have.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    There seems to be some confusion here; the piece about ‘hat’, ‘heart’ and ‘hut’ was your text not mine; I quoted it as such.

    Your criticism regarding the possible application of the system. You seem to be saying both that it’s being phonemic is asking for trouble, and on the other hand that it’s not phonemic enough.

    I believe that the system has interesting properties and deserves some attention and study. Its starting point is not some envisaged applications, designing spellings systems modeled with a view of the steps of their would-be introduction to replace traditional spelling. It was designed to solve a problem, namely to create a plausible phonemic spelling using the plain Latin alphabet alone. It might be a little bit premature to assess possible applications.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    hello again Apcbg,
    If I'm not wrong the paper in the url you gave is a research thesis for academic purposes. So of course it should receive the attention it deserves. However, most of us have a kind of idea that when someone comes up with an idea and writes a thesis on it, it should always be true. I have gone over many academic thesis papers and almost never met one which says "at the and of the study it has been found out there is no relation between A and B." Isn't this funny? Someone comes up with an idea and 99% of the time it is true...
    Back to the sounds in the system you suggest. It's been almost 20 yrs so perhaps I've forgotton some of the rules of IPA but how come ask and ago are represented by the same sound, /a/? ask has a long /a:/ sound but ago starts with schwa. what about triphthongs? e.g. fire? and /d/ both for do and this? so a learner will think that both words have the same sound, which is not. This system tries to simplify the current system (though I cannot understand why it is necessary to simplify it) but it is misleading. Anyway these are my ideas and I just wanted to share them.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    Dear Light:
    Many thanks for your comments and your questions.
    In science, when someone comes up with an idea or hypothesis, unless it's a trivial one, it may take time and the effort of many to prove or refute the original hypothesis. To confirm is not necessarily more valuable than to refute, and sometimes it's the new methodology used in the process that is more valuable that the particular result. So to establish that there is no relation between A and B may well happen to be a useful contribution.
    The purpose of the Basic Roman Spelling of English (let's write BR) is not to replace the IPA. The IPA for English has a special symbol for each English phoneme, establishing a one-to-one correspondence between phonemes and IPA symbols. It makes little sense to replace the IPA symbols by others as the two sets of symbols would be isomorphic.
    The purpose of BR is different, namely to provide as phonemic and natural as possible spelling by using only the plain Latin alphabet. The BR uses 39 graphemes for 44 or so phonemes hence the correspondence is not injective at word level. The question that needs further research is, to what extent this could it be overcome by taking the sentence context into account. For instance, both 'hat' and 'hut' would be spelled 'hat' in BR, but these two words could hardly be confused in a text. Therefore, it might be possible to develop an automated conversion of BR texts into traditional spelling.
    The two different vowels in your example are easily telled by the rule that unstressed vowels in English are reduced to schwa, and the schwa is never stressed (in Bulgarian and I believe Turkish the schwa could be stressed). Therefore, confusions involving schwa pronunciation are no problem; in particular, the 'a' in 'ask' cannot be schwa. (I pronounce the 'a' in 'ask' short, that's why I would spell it 'ask' in BR; if for you it is a long /a:/ as you suggested, then you ought to spell it 'aask' in BR.) The word 'ago' would be spelled 'agou' in BR, which implies that the stressed vowel is not 'a' hence it should be pronounced as schwa.
    Regarding 'do' and 'this', I do not propose to read /d/ in both cases; the BR spelling is a way to write English words as they are pronounced, not to change pronunciation. In particular, an extended version of the system includes also the graphemes 'th', 'dh' and 'w' for vowels that are important for the native English speakers but a bit of nuisance for others; I have met Danes, French and Russians who are otherwise fluent in English but pronounce 'sink' for 'think' and 'zis' for this'. Anyway, there is a provision that you may use 'th' and 'dh'.
    The thrifthongs are spelled as a combination of diphthongs and short vowels without any problem, 'fire' will be 'faya' (or 'fayar' if rhotic).
    Best, Apcbg

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Re-Romanization of English

    Quote Originally Posted by Apcbg
    For instance, both 'hat' and 'hut' would be spelled 'hat' in BR, but these two words could hardly be confused in a text.
    It might be possible to construct a sentence where the difference is crucial, but it would be an artificial sentence. But if the intention is to serve as a pronunciation guide, the difference is crucial anyway. The point of a phonetic system is to be able to explain how to pronounce a word if you can't guess from the spelling. If I say, for example, that "cat" rhymes with "hat" but not with "hat", it's not helpful to anyone.

    In cooking, there is a very important difference between "batter" and "butter", and you confuse them at your peril.

    The following is supposedly a true story. During World War II, the King of Norway lived in exile in Britain, and addressed his subjects by radio. One day, a technician at the BBC realised the speech was running a few seconds short, and so sent to the archives for an appropriate recording to fill in the gap. When the King finished his speech, however, instead of the sound of trumpets, listeners heard merry-go-rounds and people shouting "Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen!" The library had misheard, and sent a funfair instead of a fanfair.

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