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

From: Don Osborn (
Date: Thu May 10 2007 - 21:59:26 CDT

  • Next message: Jonathan Coxhead: "Re: glottal stop"

    I think Chris has a good point. A glottal stop is used in a number of African languages but I'm not sure that any standard use is followed re which character - more likely just the apostrophe is used. Meanwhile there are still issues with use of extended Latin characters that are visibly and clearly different and easier to correct and advise about; the proper glottal stop character rather than an apostrophe is not unimportant but then again doesn't strike me as being as big a concern.

    Richard is right about the 0 and O issue as an example of distinction among similar character, but there is arguably a bigger categorical difference (number/letter) than between the kinds of apostrophes. Moreover, something like the 0 O difference is something that we've dealt with for ages and is part of the written culture to the point that you avoid mixing them in ways that would risk unnecessary difficulties in interpretation. Apostrophe or whatever for glottal stop in the Latin orthographies I'm familiar with would look like a stylistic difference.

    Didn't we have a discussion here a while back about the Latin alpha and the problems of using it across fonts with the conventional Latin a also? There are distinctions that make sense to the technician and/or the linguist that are lost on the non-specialist user.


    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [] On
    > Behalf Of Richard Wordingham
    > Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 5:27 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: How is the glottal stop used in some languages?
    > Chris Harvey wrote on Thursday, May 10, 2007 4:08 PM
    > > 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
    > > 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.
    > I must confess I am puzzled as to why the 'punctuation apostrophe', as
    > in
    > English "can't", should be U+2019 rather than U+02BC. There must be an
    > explanation somewhere. It may be simply that it is too much to expect
    > people to make the corrrect distinction between U+2019 and U+20BC in
    > English. There are a few examples, such as "must've" and non-standard
    > "wa'er", and alien names like "Vl'hurg", where it is clearly letter-
    > like,
    > but they are probably not enough.
    > > 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?
    > In theory, yes. A hypothetical Arapaho *3a3a would be title-cased, by
    > default, to "3A3a", and, if I have not misinterpreted rule LB24 in UAX
    > #14
    > Line Breaking Properties Unicode 5.0.0, there would be no line break in
    > *3a-3a from standard line-breaking unless hyphenation rules cut in. (I
    > may
    > have misunderstood them - I'm seeing automatic line-breaking break at
    > the
    > ASCII hyphen without trouble, but also getting line breaking at the
    > hyphen-minus of '20.0e-3'.). However, the postulated Arapaho hyphen
    > problem
    > should go away if you use U+2010 HYPHEN for the hyphen function,
    > instead of
    > U+002D HYPHEN-MINUS.
    > However, it it were worth the trouble of implementing extra characters,
    > I
    > feel it would probably be better to try to move to more conventional
    > letter
    > shapes, rather than add characters that will probably cause endless
    > trouble.
    > > 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.
    > That's probably easier than distinguishing two identical characters in
    > the
    > same language, and we often do it, albeit unreliably. However, I may
    > be
    > underestimating the importance of the unpredictable distinctions made
    > by
    > fonts, e.g. '0' v.'O'.
    > Richard.

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