Re: Exemplar Characters

From: Christopher JS Vance (
Date: Wed Nov 16 2005 - 18:13:51 CST

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    On Wed, Nov 16, 2005 at 10:45:15AM +0100, Antoine Leca wrote:
    >- Also, often the most complex combinations could be canceled (or concealed)
    >from the schoolbooks; the most classical examples are the accents over
    >capitals in France, where they are not commonly taught (could be different
    >in Canada), yet it is generally considered that good pratice is to mark them
    >if one can do it (easily), so I interpret it as meaning they are part of the
    >exemplar set (please bear with me: I know the exemplar set as it stands now
    >only lists lower case.)

    When I learnt French as a second language the alphabet I was taught
    did not include any pre-accented characters. The only 'e' in the
    alphabet was unmarked for accents, so I would have to conclude that
    the French, like the English, consider the various accented and
    unaccented forms of 'e' to be the same letter (unlike the Scandinavian
    approach to their special letters). Of course, the French would
    consider their writing system incomplete without appropriate accents
    on 'their' words, even though they are probably just as happy as the
    English to make diacritics optional on 'foreign' words, especially if
    that diacritic didn't make a discernable distinction in the local
    pronunciation, or if the diacritic was considered strange, and not in
    normal use locally.

    Yes, we learnt about accents, and about digraphs, etc. They were a
    necessary part of the writing system, but were not part of the
    commonly-accepted alphabet.

    In languages with the same attitude, there is then the need to
    determine which diacritics (or other quirks of writing) are necessary
    and which are optional. Within languages which cover large areas,
    this sort of thing is probably regional, depending on where other
    languages are used commonly enough to have a significant influence.

    >> It's up to the speakers of the language concerned to decide whether
    >You meant writers, don't you?

    Perhaps. But you may find the alphabet recited by its learning
    speakers more often than those same individuals write it. Of course,
    a published book, such as a dictionary or telephone directory,
    typically has far more readers than writers...

    >... or for the same language on the two sides of a political barrier (that
    >is, until the community accepts to consider it as two separate languages.)


    Christopher Vance

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