Re: Major Defect in Combining Classes of Tibetan Vowels

From: Andrew C. West (
Date: Wed Jun 25 2003 - 18:56:40 EDT

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    On Wed, 25 Jun 2003 19:47:26 +0400, "Valeriy E. Ushakov" wrote:

    > And given that the two look identical in writing in the first palce,
    > this lexical difference had a chance to originate exactly *where*?
    > You are putting the cart before the horse.

    Well, unless the text has been scanned with OCR, a human user will have to enter
    Tibetan text manually, and if the user encounters a base consonant with two
    different vowel signs joined to it, they will have to make a choice as to which
    order the vowel signs are entered.

    For example, if the word "bcuig" (with the letter CA carrying both a shabkyu [u]
    and gigu [i] sign) is encountered in a text that is being transcribed into
    electronic form, and the user recognises it from its context as a contraction
    for "bcu gcig" (eleven), then it would be natural to enter " b-c-u-i-g" <0F56,
    0F45, 0F74, 0F72, 0F42>. On the other hand, if a syllable (tsheg bar) comprising
    the base consant GA with a shabkyu [u] sign below and a gigu [i] sign above is
    encountered (this is a plausible but hypothetical contraction), and the user
    recognises this from its context as a contraction for the word "gi gu" (the name
    for the I vowel sign), then it would be natural to enter "g-i-u" <0F42, 0F72,
    0F74>, even though when writing it by hand the shabkyu would be written before
    the gigu (calligraphic order does not necessarily equate to logical order). In
    the one case a base consonant plus shabkyu and gigu is entered as <0FXX, 0F74,
    0F72>, in the other case as <0FXX, 0F72, 0F74>.

    Unfortunately it is precisely at this point that my argument starts to crumble,
    and I am forced to throw in the towel, and admit defeat.

    The key question is, if <0F56, 0F45, 0F74, 0F72, 0F42> (bcuig) gets normalised
    to <0F56, 0F45, 0F72, 0F74, 0F42> (bciug), then so what ? Well, so nothing,
    unless <0F56, 0F45, 0F74, 0F72, 0F42> (bcuig) is a shared contraction for two
    different words, and the order of the U and I distinguishes what the contraction
    is. As Tibetan shorthand abbreviations are an informal, non-standardised method
    of abbreviating words, it is hypothetically possible that two different scribes
    could come up with the same contracted form for two differently spelled words,
    but I very much doubt that this would ever happen in reality. If I do find such
    a case, I will certainly let this list know, but in the meanwhile I agree that
    perhaps it would be more productive to return to Chris's original question,
    rather than travel too far down this detour, scenic though it is.



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