Re: IPA Null Consonant

From: Thomas M. Widmann (
Date: Mon May 26 2003 - 07:01:39 EDT

  • Next message: Sayamindu Dasgupta: "[Maybe OT] localized names of the Unicode Control characters"

    "Lukas Pietsch" <> writes:

    > > Thomas M. Widmann wrote:
    > >
    > > >I'm not sure what the right Unicode symbol is, but my best guess
    > > >is U+2205 EMPTY SET ('∅').
    > >
    > > That is a mathematical non-character just like the
    > > integral sign.
    > Yes, but then the use of the null symbol in linguistics is not
    > really part of IPA anyway, but has a much wider usage. It's really
    > more at home in morphology than in phonology (and certainly not in
    > phonetics). That's why it doesn't get defined by IPA. However, of
    > course it can be combined with IPA.

    Indeed. I also doubt it would normally show up next to alphabetic
    characters, but will instead be separated by a hyphen or similar.

    A few examples from my bookshelf:

    Aronson, "Georgian", p. 44:
        [...] Examples:
        da=v-c̣er-∅-t we will write it დავწერთ
           v-c̣er-∅-t we are writing it ვწერთ
        a=∅-a-šen-eb you will build it ააშენებ
          ∅-a-šen-eb you are building it აშენებ

    Fox, "Linguistic Reconstruction", p. 75:
        [...] Consider, for example, the fate of Proto-Indo-European *p in
        Irish, Greek and Latin:
           Old Irish Greek Latin
           aθir patɛːr pater
        Here we establish a correspondence set in initial position:
        but in order to dertermine whether the proto-phoneme was *p or *∅
        we must establish a further contrasting set [...]

    Durand, "Generative and Non-Linear Phonology", p. 127:
        ∅ → r / [ə, əː, iə, eə, oə, aː, oː] #₀ V

    > I agree the EMPTY SET symbol is the right character to use. It has
    > the right semantics, and in most fonts it will look sufficiently
    > different from the IPA vowel symbol O WITH STROKE.

    The only alternative I can think of would be U+0030 DIGIT ZERO, but
    that would look wrong in most fonts.

    If U+2205 EMPTY SET is indeed the right character, it might be an idea
    to give it an extra name (LINGUISTIC NULL or LINGUISTIC ZERO), since
    its meaning is of course not "empty set" but rather "empty element".


    Thomas Widmann, MA      +44  141 419 9872       Glasgow, Scotland, EU   

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon May 26 2003 - 07:52:20 EDT