Why incomplete subscript/superscript alphabet ?

Julian Bradfield jcb+unicode at inf.ed.ac.uk
Mon Oct 10 08:24:51 CDT 2016

On 2016-10-10, Hans Åberg <haberg-1 at telia.com> wrote:
> 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]. 

But the IPA has many diacritics exactly for this purpose.
The velarized English coda /l/ is usually described as [l̴]
with U+0334 COMBINING TILDE OVERLAY, or can be notated [lˠ]

The alveolar click with percussive flap hasn't made it into the
standard IPA, but in ExtIPA it's [ǃ¡] (preferably kerned together).

> 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.

There is improvisation when you're studying something new, of course,
but there's a lot of standardization.

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