metalanguages (was: RE : English Spelling)

From: Reynolds, Gregg (
Date: Fri Dec 10 1999 - 16:24:31 EST

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Raven Travillian []
> Sent: Friday, December 10, 1999 2:10 PM
> Not exactly unheard of. Books for children, books for
> foreigners learning
> the language, books about historical changes in pronounciation in the
> Chinese language, all have annotations for punctuation, similar to the
> Japanese _furigana_. And bopomofo is a standardized system
> for indicating
> such pronounciations.

I suspected something like this was probably the case. So here are some
more general questions somebody on the list might be able to answer:

        - Just what _is_ the distribution of kanji/katakana/hiragana in
Japanese text? Surely somebody has run the numbers on this. A related
question: what is the distribution of furigana.

        - How does Korean annotate Chinese characters? Hangul?

        - Is such phonological annotation a standard component of any other
writing systems?

        - Is there a middle way between the extremes of Japanese/Chinese
(annotational subsystem) and English (no standard "metalanguage" for
expressing phonemic structure)? I mean in actual historic use. To a
certain extent one could construe English (European latinate) punctuation
and wordspacing as a metalanguage whose purpose is to guide word recognition
(and therefore pronunciation). Early Arabic used color-coded marks.
Anything else?

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