Re: Shorthand (Re: Camion Code, new phonemic writing system)

From: Gregg Reynolds (
Date: Wed Aug 18 1999 - 22:26:29 EDT

Scott Horne wrote:

> > Writing systems must show some actual success and use, to the point where
> > there is clear evidence of publication and interchange of data in those
> > writing systems, before it makes sense for standards organizations to
> > attempt to provide standard character encodings for them.
> I agree. But what about major shorthand systems? Some of these
> (Gregg, for instance) have been extended to cover many languages,
> are in wide use, and have a substantial amount of publication
> (besides textbooks and dictionaries, there are editions of some
> novels in English Gregg shorthand). Shouldn't they qualify for
> standardisation?

Absolutely! What the world needs is more Gregg! Gosh, I wonder if ISO could
mandate Gregg worldwide. I can see the headlines now: "Microsoft, IBM, Sun team
up to support UniGregg; World Peace Achieved!"

With respect to the Camion system: looks like it could be fun, but written
language has never been about the mere transcription of sounds (nor has
phonology been about articulatory phonetics in disregard of auditory, acoustic,
etc. models). For example, how would Camion help a Japanese speaker handle
English l/r? Or an English speaker handle the "thin/thick" consonant pairs of
Arabic? These are cases where the phonemes of one language don't even exist for
the speakers of another - you literal can't hear 'em if you don't speak the
language. I don't think distinctive features are the neutral, objective
things that the Camion seems to be based on. And speakers of a language don't
naturally classify its sounds based on articulatory phonetics, or even on
auditory phonetics; if they do, its because they're trained to do so by a
literary tradition (ie theory of language). So you might say that writing
produces phonetics.

Besides, doesn't Sanskrit have much of this ground covered?

On the other hand, for specific languages it might be interesting, especially if
you can come up with some software. I can imagine something like this being
very useful for learners of a second language, at least in the early stages. A
standardized version of it for that specific purpose might be helpful, but also
way beyond the scope of Unicode.

Yours in Greggness,


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