Re: IPA query for all you linguists out there

From: Corey Miller (
Date: Tue Dec 07 1999 - 13:44:57 EST


I thought Cornish was extinct since the 1700s! How can we know the quality of
its vowels ; ) ?

Are you searching for a phonemic or a phonetic representation of Cornish? Do you
have a website indicating the vowel system as you have transcribed it so far? I
appreciate that the symbol I have suggested is not midway in geometric terms on
the IPA's vowel chart, but this may not be that important.

In a strictly phonetic Daniel Jones cardinal vowels sense the exact quality may
be important, but you will find that linguists take some liberties with phonetic
transcription. In fact, this is part of the IPA philosophy as recently described
in the recent Handbook of the IPA.

In a phonemic transcription, one could use 0251 for father and 0254 for law in
New York, Chicago and London. The actual phonetic distances between these vowels
will differ widely; for example, they are much closer together in Chicago than
they are in New York.

I assume that the fact the Cornish vowel in question is midway between 0251 and
0254 means that it is somewhat rounded; however you can tell us whether the
midwayness has more to do with height than rounding. In any case, the IPA
philosophy (as I interpret it) is that using existing symbols is preferable to
belaboring a transcription with diacritics. In my experience, 0252 is often used
for a rounded vowel that is not as rounded, nor as high (close) as 0254. A quick
glance through the Handbook shows that 0254 is only used in the description of
Persian (Southern British is not treated).

Corey Miller
Nuance Communications

Michael Everson wrote:

> Ar 09:34 -0800 1999-12-07, scríobh Corey Miller:
> >I suggest U+0252 which is the vowel in the Southern British pronunciation of
> >top, hot. It is also a useful vowel to represent the slightly rounded vowel
> >of Canadians and Bostoners for those words. Also, in a phonemic
> >representation of English, I don't think you need the length marks in any of
> >these.
> Nope. This is a Cornish vowel. 0252 is not "midway" between the two on the
> IPA vowel chart; it is rounded 0251. Or is that midway? Hmmmm.
> >> [U+0251U+02D0] is used to indicate the long a as in father.
> >> [U+0254U+02D0] is used to indicate the long aw as in law.
> >>
> >> How, exactly, do I represent a vowel midway between the two? It must be a
> >> diacritic of some sort, probably on U+0251....
> Michael Everson * Everson Gunn Teoranta *
> 15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
> Vox +353 1 478 2597 ** Fax +353 1 478 2597 ** Mob +353 86 807 9169
> 27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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