RE: Apostrophes (was Re: Exemplar Characters)

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Tue Nov 22 2005 - 10:05:09 CST

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    The suggestion that glottal stop is a "phantasy" is linguistically preposterous, and I'm certain is not what Ken meant.

    The glottal stop is most certainly a contoid. Contoids require some obstruction of airflow, but not necessarily by the tongue coming in contact with the roof of the mouth -- [p] is an example we can all agree on, but [ʔ] is also a contoid. I know of no school of linguistics that would question this.

    I believe what Ken is saying is that, when glottal stop is phonemic, then it needs to be accorded as much orthographic importance as any other consonant and written with a *letter* rather than with some overloaded punctuation mark.

    Peter Constable

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [] On Behalf
    > Of Dr.James Austin
    > Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2005 3:27 AM
    > To: Unicode Discussion
    > Subject: 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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