Encoding of underlined characters in Carrier

From: William J Poser (wjposer@ldc.upenn.edu)
Date: Mon Sep 12 2005 - 10:32:00 CDT

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    As almost certainly the only person on this list literate
    in Carrier, let me interject a few points. First, if we're
    talking about phonemes, Carrier has five, not four, items with
    underlining: the fricatives /s/ and /z/, and the affricates
    /ts/, /dz/, and /ts'/. The glottalized affricate is written
    with underlining only under the <t> and the <s> parts.

    Secondly, there is no community standard for Unicode
    encoding of Carrier, or for that matter any other
    kind of encoding, because the number of people who
    write in Carrier using a computer is tiny and most
    of those who do have no knowledge of encoding
    issues. The only real basis for making a decision
    other than what people think looks nicest would be
    the appearance of the printed materials with which
    people are familiar. Here the key fact is that the
    original form of the underline is the underscore
    available on typewriters in the 1960s. One of the
    main desiderata for the Carrier Linguistic
    Committee writing system was that it be easy
    to type on ordinary typewriters. The bulk of the
    written material with which Carrier people are
    familiar was produced by the Carrier Linguistic
    Committee from typewritten originals.

    Finally, in the longer term the underlining is
    really going to be used only in scholrly material.
    The language itself is on the verge of extinction,
    but even if by some miracle the language should
    survive, the distinction between the lamino-dentals
    (the ones with the underlining) and the apico-alveolars
    has already been lost by all but the oldest speakers.
    The SIL people agonized over marking this distinction
    for thirty years, but when it came time finally
    to print the New Testament, they left it unmarked
    because they just couldn't get agreement on it.


    Bill Poser, Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania
    http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~wjposer/ billposer@alum.mit.edu

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