Re: Annotated writing (was Re: b...

From: Gregg Reynolds (
Date: Sun Dec 12 1999 - 04:42:57 EST

Edward Cherlin wrote:

> At 13:20 -0800 1999/12/10, =?UTF-8?B?UmV5bm9sZHMsIEdyZWdn?= wrote:
> > - How does Korean annotate Chinese characters? Hangul?
> It's more the other way around. The text will be in Hangul, with
> occasional references to the Hanja for Chinese loan-words, as in the
> Sino-Korean
> U+C704 AE14 0028 570D 7881 0029
> wi gi ( surround board game )
> hangul hangul ASCII hanja hanja ASCII

Very interesting. But presumably Hanja are annotated somehow in pedagogical
materials, no? (And isn't "ouiji" a fortune-telling game? :)

> > - Is such phonological annotation a standard component of any other
> >writing systems?
> Hebrew writing system as used for Biblical and later Rabbinic Hebrew
> in printed editions. Hand-written Torah scrolls have a different set
> of marks added to letters. They used to be known in English as
> 'tittles', a word now seen only in the memorable statement, "Not one
> jot or tittle shall pass away from Torah until all these things shall
> be fulfilled." (Jot is a German-style spelling for the letter yod,
> the smallest in the alphabet. I don't know how it got into early
> 17th-century English. I also don't know what tittles signify in a
> Torah text.)

Any connection to the "Theory of Tittlebats" of Pickwickian fame?

Syriac also has an interesting system of diacritics. In addition to phonemic
signs, it does cool stuff like indicate plurals by superscripting two dots over
the singular. (The words differ in pronunciation too).

Arabic diacritics, at least for the Quran and possibly other important texts
such as hadith, go well beyond phonemic annotation to indicate things like
whether a pause is permitted or forbidden in some places, as well as
specifically textual annotation, such as indicating that a Saud should be
treated as a Seen. The former class of marks is somewhat analogous to
latinate punctuation, insofar as it controls speech rhythms.

But beyond the Semitic languages (excepting Ethiopic) and languages using
Chinese characters? I suspect not, and the fact the even English has never
developed a really standard metalanguage for pronunciation, even in
dictionaries, would seem to indicate that its orthography is not quite as
opaque as anecdotal evidence would have us believe.

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