Representation of aspiration (was: Re: Transcriptions of "Unicode")

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Fri Jan 12 2001 - 13:38:27 EST

Richard Cook surmised:

> I think the question about aspiration of this k relates to the fact that
> it is at the onset of a word-medial unstressed syllable. So, although it
> is aspirated, the aspiration might not be as pronounced as it would be
> in a stressed and/or word-initial environment.
> BTW, in a very close transcription, if one is using superscription
> (position above baseline) and relative size reduction to indicate
> aspiration, I suppose that degree of superscription or the size or both
> could be modulated to indicate degree of aspiration?

Nah, if you tried to go down that path, you'd just end up with
unrepresentable transcriptions and unreliable reproduction. I doubt
that there are many transcribers who could reliably record more than
three degrees of aspiration, anyway (roughly: slight aspiration,
"normal" aspiration, and superaspiration).

Once you go past that level, which could be reliably indicated with
appropriate use of diacritics, you are really into the realm of
instrumental phonetics. I'd just hook up the machine and let it
give you precise timings of voice delays post consonatal release
in milliseconds.

> Or perhaps just mark-up the unsuperscripted aspiration indicator, to
> note degree of aspiration ... however you would like to measure that.

No need to "mark it up". Just add another diacritic. That's how
most transcribers would work, in practice.


> I guess you see what I'm hinting at ...

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