Re: Aphabets (was: [Glorantha]Testing ++)

From: John English <john_at_theenglishs.fsnet.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2004 08:26:25 -0000

Many of the languages that use the Roman alphabet don't use it phonetically, and those that do don't all use the -same- phonetic scheme. Many have extra marks added to the letters.

Russian is written phonetically in Cyrillic but that's only because there has been a fairly recent spelling reform - the alphabet was phonetic when St Cyril invented it but the language had drifted over the centuries. Even so, you can't always tell how to pronounce a Russian word by sounding the letters because they vary according to where the stress is.

Me:
The situation is however more complex as we don't in fact use words in isolation. Even if their English is heavily accented with some words mangled out of all recognition I generally find I get the gist of what is said to me by visitors whose English is not good, because I put the words in context. With a written text things are a little different, but I'd imgine the Pavisite could try out different possible pronunciations until something clicked!

Personal experience of learning foreign languages shows that the script is highly relevant when mastering reading. Russian spelling may be phonetic, but I was still struggling with the alphabet after some time (in fact I never really got there and have long since forgotten it). The basic differences between French use of the Roman alphabet and English was covered in a session with ease!

And the very thought of trying to tackle a non-alphabetic system such as Chinese boggles the mind...!

John

--__--__-- Received on Tue 23 Nov 2004 - 06:57:44 EET

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