Re: super- and subscripted characters

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Sun Mar 21 2010 - 15:28:09 CST

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    André Szabolcs Szelp wrote:
    >> There is a superscripted x, namely U+02E3, MODIFIER SMALL LETTER
    >> SMALL X, “ˣ”. I don’t know why it has been included and what it is
    >> used for, but I would guess it is used in some phonetic notations,
    >> or maybe in the writing system(s) of some small language(s).
    > Jukka, you should know! ;-)

    Right, I should have remembed this notation, even though I don’t see it

    > It's used recently in _Finnish_ phonemic notation (earlier people used
    > the apostrophe) to mark the silent phoneme which only appears as
    > sandhi gemination of the following initial consonant at the end of
    > words (mostly ending [orthographically] in -e, so phonemically in
    > [-eˣ]. (Historically -ˣ < -ʔ < -k).

    Well, it’s not a phoneme, it’s normally not silent, the word
    orthographically ends more often with some other vowel than -e, it has
    several origins (though -k is probably most common), and there is hardly a
    reason to postulate an intermediate phase of “-ʔ”, but most descriptions of
    the phenomenon are equally or more incorrect. But this is off-topic in the
    list, so I’ll just mention my treatise on the topic:

    > e.g.
    > o.: vaatekauppa, pht.: [vaatekkauppa], phm.: /vaateˣ + kauppa/

    The phonetic notation is probably sufficient for the illustrative purpose,
    but in IPA notation, it would rather be [ˈʋɑːtekˌkɑuppɑ].

    Anyway, “ˣ” can indeed be regarded as a modifier letter here even in the
    concrete sense that an intuitive reading of the words “modifier letter”
    suggests. It does not modify the preceding letter, as modifiers often do,
    but it indicates a modification (gemination) of the pronunciation of the
    _following_ letter.


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