There are cases when such interlinear phonetic marks, originally added for
mnemonic purposes (by the reader, probably), became regular features of
It is the case of French or Portuguese cedilla in words like "fašade": it
originally was just a small "s" written under the "c" to remind that the
correct pronunciation was [fasad] and not, as the spelling could suggest,
*[fakad]. At some age (an historian of these languages could tell us when),
the little "s" became mandatory.
I suspect that accents, German umlaute and the Spanish tilde on "n" could
have evolved from similar annotation practices.
I also suspect that the Japanese furigana could one day become so common
that they will end up to be included directly over the glyph of each kanji.
If this should happen now, it would be a nuisance for Unicode because it
would force the inclusion in the standard of separate code-points for each
one of the several on and kun pronunciations of each kanji. (But, well, this
impression probably comes by the fact that the only the Japanese literature
I can afford are comics...)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gregg Reynolds [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: 1999 December 12, Sunday 05.38
> To: Unicode List
> Cc: Unicode List
> Subject: Re: Annotated writing (was Re: b...
> 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
> materials, no? (And isn't "ouiji" a fortune-telling game? :)
> > > - Is such phonological annotation a standard component of any
> > >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
> signs, it does cool stuff like indicate plurals by superscripting two dots
> the singular. (The words differ in pronunciation too).
> Arabic diacritics, at least for the Quran and possibly other important
> 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
> 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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