Re: Apostrophes (was Re: Exemplar Characters)

From: Dr.James Austin (
Date: Sat Nov 19 2005 - 05:26:52 CST

  • Next message: Dr.James Austin: "Re: Apostrophes (was Re: Exemplar Characters)"

    Kenneth Whistler has two points we must agree with, really.
    (1) whereas there are the expressions like 'glottal stop' , 'glottal sound',
    there really is no such speech sound. A speech sound must be either a vocoid
    (go by a vowel letter), or a contoid (go by a consonant letter) For a sound
    element to be qualified as a speech sound it must be 'combinable' with other
    sounds-vowels and consonants, and, occur in the beginning, middle and end of
    (some) words.For a consonant to be, a certain point of tongue must
    approximate/contact a certain point on the roof of the mouth.Where does the
    glottis sit? It is inaccessible to the tongue.
        'Glottal speech sound' is a misnomer, and represents a phantasy.
    (2)Apostrophe is the name for a 'mark', which when placed at a 'lower level
    after the letter', goes by the name 'comma'.A slight difference in shape
    does not matter. It thus is not an exemplar character; it is just a special
    character, and it represents an 'imaginary soundless gap', required for the
    tongue to slip back from where ever it was to the position to start the "s".
    There is some kind of strain on the far end of the end sound so that the 's'
    becomes like 'z' in some cases.
    Can you 'utter' an apostrophe independantly? Or combined with just any one
    of the vowels?

    James Austin

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Kenneth Whistler" <>
    To: <>
    Cc: <>
    Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2005 5:39 AM
    Subject: Re: Apostrophes (was Re: Exemplar Characters)

    > > > We could choose U+2019 or we could choose U+02BC. Which one is best?
    > > >
    > > > I hope this question makes sense.
    > >
    > > It makes sense, but it doesn't have a determinant answer.
    > In fact, giving this another think, the *best* answer is to
    > avoid apostrophe altogether in an orthography, period.
    > Given the fact that there are perfectly decent full *letter*
    > characters in Unicode for a glottal stop, not confusable with
    > any punctuation mark, one of those is a far better orthographic
    > choice for a glottal stop than U+2019, U+02BC, or U+0027.
    > Of course the down side of this is centuries of tradition
    > among users of the Latin script for tossing in an apostrophe
    > for a "letter that isn't there", and the glottal stop traditionally
    > got tossed into that bag because it wasn't "really" a sound or
    > a letter, anyway, right?
    > Furthermore, the tyranny of English typewriters (and later ASCII)
    > has made apostrophe the only accepted non-A-Z "letter" that
    > English speakers, in particular, would accept as an exotic
    > addition to the Latin alphabet, so by default it got adopted
    > into a jillion missionary and practical orthographies. Ah well.
    > I still stand by my position that *if* you can convince a
    > community to adopt a *real* glottal stop letter for their
    > orthography instead of an apostrophe, in the long run things
    > will work out better.
    > --Ken

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