Re: use of apostrophes

From: James Kass (
Date: Tue Jun 04 2002 - 15:39:15 EDT

Peter Constable wrote,

> An interesting addendum: in recent interaction with one of my colleagues in
> Africa, after recommending that they use U+02BC to represent glottal stop
> and ejective stops, he asked if they could either have a glyph variant that
> is straight or else use something like U+02C8 instead. The reason given was
> that language workers are being trained to key data but, the success of the
> training has been dependent on every different keystroke corresponding to a
> unique shape, i.e. it wouldn't work to require different keyings for
> distinct functions that use the same shape -- but they use single quotation
> marks, so need a distinct shape for glottals / glottalisation.

hmmm, U+0294, LATIN LETTER GLOTTAL STOP... Perhaps not.

On page 177 of TUS 3.0...
"... For example, the glottal stop (Arabic Hamza) in Latin transliteration has
been variously represented by the characters U+02BC MODIFIER LETTER
MODIFIER LETTER GLOTTAL STOP. Conversely, an apostrophe can have
several uses... "

The modifier letter glottal stop seems intriguing because of its semantics.
The right half ring might be an option because its shape resembles the
apostrophe and apparently precedents exist for using it as a glottal stop

Recommending U+02BC for the glottal stop seems to be fairly widespread.
Any language which uses the apostrophe as a glottal stop character as well
as the apostrophe for other purposes could well present the same kind of
problem for users learning to key-in data. If the keyboard is to have
distinct keys for U+02BC and U+2019, there needs to be some way for
the user to know which is which.

How did the practice of using the apostrophe to represent the glottal stop
originate? Was it because the writing system originally called for the
U+02C0 and the apostrophe was visually similar and readily accessible?

The Fulani language example in Katzner's "The Languages of the World" uses
the apostrophe both as single right quote and glottal stop.

"... Alkali, mardo hore petel be wakkude junde, wi'i nder yonki mako, 'Mi
wawata besdugo mangu hore am, amma mi ustan wakkude am'. ..."

In UTF-8:
“… Alkali, marḍo hore pẹtẹl be wakkude junde, ẉiˈi nder yọnki mako, ‘Mi
wawata ḅesdugo mangu hore am, amma mi ustan wakkude am’. …”

Suggesting U+02C0 might work, but this could be perceived as an
undesirable spelling reform. Maybe the answer should be a glyph
variant. Continue to recommend U+02BC, but provide fonts with
easily distinguishable glyphs for the characters in question.
Keyboards could be labelled accordingly.

Best regards,

James Kass.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jun 04 2002 - 13:42:44 EDT