Spelling System for Dialect

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Frank Antonson

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I am starting this as a new thread since Shahir of the other thread seems to have disappeared.

Does anybody know of an easily usable phonetic spelling system that does not use diacritical markings, by which I mean symbols other than letters and punctuation marks that are on a normal English language keyboard?

As I said in the other thread, I have always found the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) impractical to use for writing writing up to speed.

Long ago, I studied this matter, considering, for example how Robert Burns wrote in his dialect. I found nothing that was satisfactory. The best at the time, I think, was called "World English".

\Uy divelupt muy uwn sistem, then, wich werks fuyn for muy perpusiz. But az uy am ekspandyng intw forin langwejiz, uy duwnt wunt tw ryinvent thu wyl, if uy duwnt hav tw.\

I hope that wasn't too offensive. But I would serious like know if there are other options.
 

Frank Antonson

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Oops. I spelled "then" wrong. It should have been \dhen\ since the "th" is voiced.

Sorry.
 

5jj

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As I said in the other thread, I have always found the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) impractical to use for writing writing up to speed.
The problem with any other system is that nearly everybody reading things written in it would have to learn it first. And, unless you provided recorded materials, they would not know exactly how it was pronounced.

I can read your \Uy divelupt muy uwn sistem/, but I don't know exactly what sound is represented by, for example, \uy/. If however you write the IPA [äë], then all of use who can read IPA transcriptions know what that sound (that of BrE RP /aɪ/).

Your system also suggests that in the dialect you are transcribing, the final element of \uy/is a different vowel from the first one of \sistem/. If it is, then it is different from most other varieties of English. I also notice that you use the same symbol, \w/, for the o of 'into' and the first sound after g in 'languages'; I cannot tell how you pronounce these words. You also use the same syllable for the sounds of the letters I have underlined in these words: developed, system, languages. In my variety of English, these are three different vowels; I don't know which of these your \e/ represents - or if it a different vowel altogether. IPA symbols would give me the answer.

It is not easy to do a narrow transcription with the IPA system, but it is the best system we have for dialects.
 

BobK

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There is an ASCII-based system, for representing the phonemes of mainstream English - SAMPA, I think. (Yes).

But it is only good for that one dialect (and I'm not convinced that the word 'good' is appropriate ;-)). If you want to represent sounds and sound systems unambiguously I don't see how you can avoid the IPA.

b
 

5jj

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SAMPA is based on the IPA.
 

BobK

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SAMPA is based on the IPA.
:up: I've just read that SAMPA page, and realize it's more multinational than I thought If it's based on the IPA, though, I find it an unusually regressive development.

b
 

5jj

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If it's based on the IPA, though, I find it an unusually regressive development.
It's not supposed to replace the IPA, but to make a machine-readable form of it - I think. I don't fully understand the articles I've read on it. :oops:
 

Frank Antonson

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There are, no doubt, flaws in my system. But it is fast. Yes, it was originally developed for my dialect. The schwa sound is a problem. But I still see no better alternative.

It is a challenge to use my system for German (of even for British English), but I think that it can be done.
Later this spring I will be trying to use it for Brazilian Portuguese. That may be even more difficult because of the nasal quality of the "-ao". but allowances can be made.

Thank you for your comments. I am genuinely interested in this subject and am not trying to simply stir things up.

One of the things that I am aware of is that the way I write must be read as it is written. That could be very awkward for the \Bridish\ ,as we say in America, as opposed to the \Bitish\ as the British say.
 

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One of the things that I am aware of is that the way I write must be read as it is written. That could be very awkward for the \Bridish\ ,as we say in America,
It could cause problems for Americans who do not speak exactly the same dialect as you. How do they know which sound you mean when you transcribe 'cot' in your system?
as opposed to the \Bitish\ as the British say.
We feel that we pronounce the word as /brɪtɪʃ/, though some pronounce the t as a glottal stop.
 

Frank Antonson

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OK. First of all, yes, an advantage of the standard spelling system is that people can read it and make the pronunciation their own. Everybody, probably reads it somewhat differently. And that is a good thing. I do not mean to say that one should not use standard spelling. I actually wrote a long essay on this subject entitled "The Folk Makes No Apology", which I will soon put on my blog.

Secondly, if you mean a "cot" on which one sleeps, I would spell it, as I say it, \kot\.

Third, the glottal stop ist very frequent in my dialect. For it I use an apostophe, e.g. "mountain" \maw'n\. I know that the British also use it a lot. I hear it as well in the German "Guten Morgen" \gw'n morgen\.

Finally, the problem for me with your transcription of "British" is that it requires a letter that is not always being used on a keyboard. That slows me way up.

I continue to thank you for your interest and comments.

Frank
 

Frank Antonson

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Here is a text that is often used in parallel texts of different languages. I am sure that you will recognize it immediately, but it may be awkard to read in my dialect.

\Ar faadher, hw art in hevin, haluwid by thuy neym. Dhuy kingdum kum. Thuy wil by dun on erth az it iz in hevin. Giv us dhis dey ar deyly bred. And forgiv us ar dets az wy forgiv ar deterz. And lyd us not intw tempteyshun, but dyliver us frum yvil.\

A word like "evil" is a problem. When I conduct a choir, I make sure that they sing \yvil\. But when speaking, most people here would say \yvool\. I am still not certain what to do with the schwa.

If I could hear an Englishman speak that text, I would certainly spell it differently, e.g. "Our Father" \awer faadher\.

A problem with this text is that people speak it collectively in church and it is memorized. That shifts the register to the extent that it does not really represent dialect.

Frank
 

5jj

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OK. First of all, yes, an advantage of the standard spelling system is that people can read it and make the pronunciation their own. Everybody, probably reads it somewhat differently. And that is a good thing. I do not mean to say that one should not use standard spelling. I actually wrote a long essay on this subject entitled "The Folk Makes No Apology", which I will soon put on my blog.
Unless one uses (or bases one's own phonetic/phonemic transcription on) an objective, universally accepted system, such as the IPA, one simply cannot know exactly what sound any symbols you use represent.
Secondly, if you mean a "cot" on which one sleeps, I would spell it, as I say it, \kot\.
That does not tell me whether it sounds like my 'cot' or my 'caught'.
Finally, the problem for me with your transcription of "British" is that it requires a letter that is not always being used on a keyboard. That slows me way up.
This is, of course a problem. On a normal computer keyboard, even using Insert - Symbols and sites such as this, it is simply not possible to produce accurate phonetic transcriptions, This is why SAMPA, X-SAMPA and SAMPROSA were developed.
=we ma be ab~l tu rit fAst~r if we yuz 0ur On sist~mz, but dhat duznt men dh~t udh~z will nO egzakle h0u 0ur w~ds A t~ be pr~n0unst=.
 
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5jj

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If I could hear an Englishman speak that text, I would certainly spell it differently, e.g. "Our Father" \awer faadher\.
It is not clear whether your r symbol represents the sound I use in the middle of 'mirror'. If it does, it is not present in the 'our father' as produced by many native speakers of British English.
 

BobK

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...
Later this spring I will be trying to use it for Brazilian Portuguese. That may be even more difficult because of the nasal quality of the "-ao". but allowances can be made.

...

I don't know much Brazilian Portuguese - though in Lisbon I was once mistaken for a Brazilian (because of my over-precise/Spanish-like pronunciation together with my height, both of which marked me as an outsider - in spite of my (at the time :oops:) near-fluency). But the Continental Portuguese nasalized 'ão' does occur - phonetically though not phonemically - in English. If you say 'downtown' or 'downtime' (Or 'Downton Abbey' - for UK residents) and stop before the /t/ you get the requisite sound (or at least something very close to it) - so long as you don't release the /n/.

b
 

Frank Antonson

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Yes, I know. And that is very well explained. The sound is not actually hard for English-speakers to make.

The problem that I will run into is the "tilde" ???? that swung dash over the "a". I don't want to slow my writing up to the extent required to make it. I would prefer not to use an international keyboard. But I don't think that it will be asking too much for a Portuguese-speaker to realize that \nao\ ("no") or \Sao Paolo\ "Sao Paulo" should be pronounced nasally.

My purpose with my spelling system is not scientific, but literary. I want to be able to write in my dialect quickly and without shame.
 

Frank Antonson

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If you want to actually hear what I sound like when I use this system, go to this link and begin at about the 7th minute, 10th second.

2.76.1 Punctuation Begun - YouTube

There I am teaching punctuation, but for the sake of some German-speakers who showed interest in it, I show what English looks like if I spell it phonetically.
 

5jj

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There I am teaching punctuation, but for the sake of some German-speakers who showed interest in it, I show what English looks like if I spell it phonetically.
I watched your video, in which you transcribed (roughly) phonemically, not phonetically.

I am sorry, Frank, but your system seems to me to be unscientific, unhelpful and - even for your own dialect - inaccurate. I simply do not see the point of using a system like this, when there is a sound, if complex, system in the IPA, and sound, and moderately simple, phonemic systems, American and British, which are used in most dictionaries and coursebooks available to learners. Our views are so different that I don't think there is any point in my saying anything else on the subject.
 

Frank Antonson

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Are there any short stories or poems written in IPA?

I am fine with "unscientific". I have no wish to be scientific. "Unhelpful" I also understand. But someone, for example a German, trying to learn to speak English and confronted with the word "knight" \nuyt\, I still nurture some hope that my system could be helpful.

I would not have started this thread if I had not noticed that so many German viewers of my mini-course "Englisch fuer Duetsche" were interested in the way I could spell to help them.

My original query was about whether or not there was some better system that used no exotic symbols and could be written quickly. I would still like to know. I am not convinced that IPA is the solution. Who would read it? Who could? I think only fellow linguists.

But thank you for looking at my attempt.

Frank
 

BobK

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Are there any short stories or poems written in IPA?

....
Yes - but I'm not sure if they're available online. In my 'Principles of the IPA' booklet (32pp, I guess) the same story (about a contest between the North Wind and the Sun) is transcribed in 40-50 different languages (including 3 or 4 dialects of English).

b
 

Frank Antonson

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More thoughts:

I have now looked at SAMPA. It would not serve my purposes. I keep thinking of Robert Burns or Mark Twain's writing in Huckleberry Finn.

It dawned on me that so much of Robert MacNeil's The Story of English would give me chances to hear various English dialects and to try to transcribe them if I cared to.

You, 5jj, are probably right about "phonemic" vs "phonetic". I always found the difference between the two confusing. Then, there is also "phonics" as a way to teach reading and writing.

I believe that most English speakers use about 42 phonemes. We have about 26 letters to represent them. "X" can be "ks", "C" can be "s" or "z" except when combined as "ch", and "Q" can be "kw". For a glottal stop I think that an apostrophe works well. As far as the nuances involved with the vowels and diphthongs are concerned, I am not sure that any system -- even the IPA -- can adequately represent them. They seem to be on such a "sliding scale". E.g. "cot" and "caught" in my dialect sound identical -- \kot\.

I will look to see what became of World English.

Finally, I am sorry if you, 5jj, will say nothing more on this subject. You seem to bring to it considerable expertise.

Frank
 
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