Why incomplete subscript/superscript alphabet ?

Hans Åberg haberg-1 at telia.com
Mon Oct 10 04:30:48 CDT 2016

> On 10 Oct 2016, at 03:13, Doug Ewell <doug at ewellic.org> wrote:
> Denis Jacquerye wrote:
>> Regarding the superscript q, in some rare cases, it is used to
>> indicate pharyngealization or a pharyngeal consonant instead of the
>> Latin letter pharyngeal voiced fricative U+0295 ʕ, the modifier letter
>> reversed glottal stop U+02C1 ˁ or the modifier letter small reversed
>> glottal stop U+02E4 ˤ.
>> ...
> Sounds like good material to include in a proposal.

I think that IPA might be designed for broad phonetic transcriptions [1], with a requirement to distinguish phonemes within each given language. For example, the English /l/ is thicker than the Swedish, but in IPA, there is only one symbol, as there is no phonemic distinction with each language. The alveolar click /!/ may be pronounced with or without the tongue hitting the floor of the mouth, but as there is not phonemic distinction within any given language, there is only one symbol [2].

Thus, linguists wanting to describe pronunciation in more detail are left at improvising notation. The situation is thus more like that of mathematics, where notation is somewhat in flux.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonetic_transcription
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alveolar_clicks

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