RE: Feedback on PR-104

From: Michael Maxwell (
Date: Mon Aug 13 2007 - 09:33:38 CDT

  • Next message: Sinnathurai Srivas: "Re: Feedback on PR-104"

    [Apologies if this should not go to both the Indic and the Unicode mailing lists--I'm using the original cc list, but let me know if this is inappropriate!]

    Sinnathurai Srivas wrote:
    > Tamil already defines NEAR-VOICELESS VOWELS, which
    > CONTRADICTS the conjunct theory. With a sopisticated speech
    > spectrum analiser, this Grammar can be proved as valid.

    I don't understand why this is relevant. Unicode is about written scripts, not about pronunciation. There are dialects of Spanish that have voiceless vowels, or perhaps you'd call them near-voiceless. (For any linguists here, devoicing of vowels in e.g. Ecuadorian Sierra Spanish occurs between voiceless consonants, particularly if the vowel is unstressed. E.g. the second /e/ in necesario "necessary".) Spanish is written the same regardless of whether the vowels are voiced, and indeed, would be written if (as I suspect) the voiceless vowel is sometimes omitted entirely. The rule in question is purely allophonic, and does not cause a spelling issue for Spanish, much less an encoding issue.

    My suspicion is that any voiceless or semi-voiced vowels in Tamil, particularly these (which I would guess to be epenthetic) are purely allophonic, and are not reflected in written Tamil. The issue of whether the consonants in question are written as conjuncts or not is therefore surely orthogonal to the phonetics of the issue. Putting it differently, the writing system of Tamil is what it is, regardless of the detailed phonetics, or even the 'phonemics'.

       Mike Maxwell
       CASL/ U Md

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