Impotance of diacritics (was: Looking for transcription ...)

From: busmanus (
Date: Fri Jul 09 2004 - 15:07:23 CDT

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    Mike Ayers wrote:

    > Interesting case, and one reason why diacritic stripping,
    > although brutal, may be desireable - it doesn't pretend to be accurate.

    An even funnier example than Törőcsik's name, would be
    Benkó /bɛnkoː/ and Benkő /bɛnkøː/, two famous musicians of
    Hungary. "Singelacute" Benkó plays dixie and jazz,
    "doubleacute" Benkő the classical guitar.

    I generally accept publishers to trust readers to decide for
    themselves, if they want to use the information provided by
    diacriticals in such cases (personal names, place names without
    a traditional equivalent). Being "comfortable" simply
    isn't the right guideline here.

    Using traditional names for geographical places (like Cologne
    for Köln) or well-known personalities of the distant past
    (like Pliny for Plinius) is another matter. And of course,
    I am talking about typography and not text search functions.

    > > perhaps someone finds my data
    > > interesting.
    > I do find it interesting. It gave me some insight into the
    > European view of diacritics, which is very different from mine. For
    > instance, it seems that diacritics have similar effects on vowels, and
    > that those vowels have similar sounds both before and after
    > modification, across most (all?) European languages - am I reading
    > correctly here?

    There are different conventions in different orthographies,
    some of which may be shared between languages. E.g. the diaeresis
    (horizontal double dot above) has one function shared between
    German, Hungarian, Finnish, etc. and another function shared
    between e.g. French and Spanish. Some of these writing systems
    may be inwardly consistent and phonological almost entirely,
    although not fully "compatible" with each other; while others
    may rely more heavily on the historic principle.



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