Re: Nuuchahnulth dictionary

From: Philippe VERDY (
Date: Sun May 29 2005 - 10:23:15 CDT

  • Next message: Hans Aberg: "Re: Nuuchahnulth dictionary"

    De : "Hans Aberg" <>
    > At 17:15 -0700 2005/05/28, John Hudson wrote:
    > >Hans Aberg wrote:
    > >
    > >>BBC has reported on a new Nuuchahnulth dictionary:
    > >>
    > >>Perhaps one should check if it, as script, it is covered by Unicode.
    > >
    > >Nuuchahnulth is written in the Latin script, albeit with many
    > >diacritics and special letters.
    > Not entirely, it seems. Go to
    > and pick April 21, 2005 Edition
    > On page 14, there is are examples of test, including special symbols
    > for glottal stop and pharyngeal. It could be that Nuuchahnulth is
    > originally a mainly spoken language, where the Latin script has been
    > used as an adaptation to the lack of available proper symbols.

    It looks like the phonetics has many consonnantal clusters terminated by a glotal stop. The chosen alphabet encodes the glotal stop also as a separate letter, but it often combines with the previous consonnant, in a form looking more like a rounded apostrophe, preferably combined above the consonnant if possible, except when there's already another diacritic (like the hacek above c).

    This kind of combining glotal stop modifier is apparently not encoded as such in Unicode, and various symbols are used, and I'm not sure that the current characters used (spacing apostrophe, or combining comma above) to represent this mutation (consonnant + /-uh/) are well serving the language.

    Also the simplified romanization of the glotal stop seems very unstable in the shown examples.

    Beside this, the romanization to "tl" of the "special" /tla/ consonnant (represented by a latin lambda) does not cause severe problems, but how would you romanize the barred l? with "lh"?

    Anyway this alphabet is the choice of the native nation that promotes the language. I can't critic it, but may be they are seeking for help to find a stable alphabet with a stable orthography for it, so the existence of a dictionnary is an important step.

    > You can find other examples of such Westernization on top left of
    > page 9, where they describe their use of an old Roman practise.

    Yes, but I note also a mutation of many vowels (see also examples in the health services advertizing inserts), as if the correct vowels were not well represented either with the "enhanced" Latin script, or with its simplified romanization.
    Are there missing vowels for this language?

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