Re: Transcriptions of "Unicode"

From: Mark Davis (
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 10:15:43 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Marco Cimarosti" <>
To: "Unicode List" <>
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2001 00:15
Subject: RE: Transcriptions of "Unicode"

> Mark Davis wrote:
> >Much as I admire and appreciate the French language (second only to
> Italian),
> >the proximate derivation of "Unicode" was not from that language, and the
> >transcription should not match the French pronunciation. Instead, it has
> >solid Northern Californian roots (even though not exactly dating from the
> >Gold Rush days).
> Of course, my comment about French pronunciation was only partially
> -- I should have added as smiley. But I think that /ynikod/ is the actual
> pronunciation of "Unicode" in French (as opposed to most other European
> language, that simply approximate the English pronunciation). So, as you
> explained that you are listing languages, and that you accept more than
> language for each script, you might consider a second IPA example.

The IPA is only in the list as a reference for how to approximate the
pronunciation, not really as a language. Perhaps I should mark it in some

> >According to the references I have, the prefix "uni" is directly from
> >while the word "code" is through French.
> I wonder what "directly from Latin" may mean in the case of English.
> of some timing problems, I would say it means: "through direct knowledge
> *written* Latin".

There was a period well after the Norman invasion where a large number of
words came into English directly from Latin, which was still in widespread
use among scholars.

> A direct derivation from Latin of English "uni-" would imply that, at some
> age, English scholars used to read Latin with a pronunciation influenced
> French. In fact, the initial [ju:] is the regular English approximation of
> French vowel [y]. (Is this likely?)

[ju:] isn't an approximation to the French [y]. There was a phase in the
development of English called the Great Vowel Shift, where certain long
vowels shifted back: a => [e:], e => [i:], i => [ai], o => [u:] (as in fool,
move), u => [ju:]. I don't remember when this was -- it's been a long
time -- but I seem to recall that it was a bit before Shakespeare. The
pronunciation of u in French shifted at some point from [u] to [y]; I have
no idea when this change happened, or if it would have affected the Latin
spoken by the English at the time. Perhaps someone else knows.

> >The Indo-European would have been *oi-no-kau-do ("give one strike"): *kau
> >apparently being related to [...] caudal, [...]
> Wow! So Unicode also means "single tail", after all... What would that be
> Chinese? :-)
> Marco

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