Re: How is the glottal stop used in some languages?

From: Chris Harvey (
Date: Thu May 10 2007 - 10:08:33 CDT

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    >> Probably not. In addition to suggestions that have already been made, be
    >> aware that Unicode 5.1 should have two new characters that may be exactly
    >> what you are looking for. For more information, please see the characters
    >> named "saltillo" in

    I’m concerned with the addition of characters which are visually
    identical, and only differ in that one is punctuation and the other is
    meant to be an orthographical letter. As in the case for U+02BC

    This is a topic I brought up a while ago, and I apologize for bringing
    it up again.

    Let’s take, or example, the Nishnaabemwin language (Ojibwa). The
    standard orthography for many of the speakers was devised specifically
    to have no non-English letters. One of the language’s characters is the
    apostrophe ’. The fact that it’s pronounced with a glottal stop is
    irrelevant, we could be talking about Mi'kmaq or Maliseet where the
    apostrophe has other phonological values. Ojibwa can be typed on a
    US-English keyboard as long as the apostrophe is understood to be
    U+0027 or U+2019 (for those programs using auto-quotes). To introduce
    U+02BC would be very confusing to Ojibwa speakers; why is ' one thing
    in English but another in Ojibwa? I have had no success in
    communicating the practical need for two apostrophes, one for English,
    one for the Native language with speakers and language educators. When
    I assigned U+02BC to their keyboard layout, big problems arose. People
    can type English on those keyboards as well and encountered
    difficulties when they typed U+02BC in English text. Consequently I’ve
    had to remove U+02BC from all keyboards I had designed.

    We could go further, Squamish writes its glottal stop with a 7, Tlingit
    with a period . , Arapaho writes /θ/ with the number 3. These
    orthographies were developed so that as few exotic characters as
    possible would be required, and that these languages could be typed on
    an English keyboard. Should new MODIFIER NUMBER SEVEN, MODIFIER NUMBER
    THREE characters be introduced?

    Perhaps I’m alone in thinking this, but users cannot be expected to
    differentiate between two visually identical characters, one for one
    language, one for another.

    Chris Harvey

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