RE: IPA Null Consonant

From: Kent Karlsson (
Date: Tue May 27 2003 - 06:27:35 EDT

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    > As Pullum writes in his "Phonetic Symbol Guide":
    > Null Sign
    > This has has no phonetic value, [...]
    > Dinnsen (1974, 43) uses the slightly different null set symbol <∅>
    > as the notation for a phonological segment "specified minus for all
    > features" [...]
    > I cannot represent the graphical page here, but his NULL SIGN is quite
    > slender, very much like a zero with a stroke, while the null set
    > symbol seems to be just as wide as it is tall, just as the EMPTY SET
    > symbol shown in the Unicode book.
    > I tend to agree with him that the normal visual representation of this
    > character in linguistics is different -- for instance, it was quite
    > slender in all the books I quoted earlier.

    I would NOT recommend using a math symbol for this. Especially considering
    the above. The CAPITAL O WITH STROKE (Ø) is probably better. It can be slender
    in some fonts, it can be round in some other fonts, and it is a letter.

    Even though the capital version (in Norwegian and Danish) and the lowercase
    version (in Norwegian, Danish and IPA) usually stand for a vowel, in the
    contexts considered, the uppercase version appears free for use as a "null".
    Note that the o with stroke does not have any kind of decomposition.

    Note also that the empty set symbol always is round, and rather large (if
    the font is done right), and it is not a letter. Finally, the empty set
    symbol was inspired by the o with stroke (Ø) (see; look for "null set symbol"),
    but that does not make it suitable to reuse it in a word-like context.

                    /kent k

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