A last missing link for interoperable representation
Ken Whistler via Unicode
unicode at unicode.org
Tue Jan 8 15:43:08 CST 2019
On 1/8/2019 1:11 PM, James Kass via Unicode wrote:
> But we're still using typewriter kludges to represent stress in Latin
> script because there is no Unicode plain text solution.
O.k., that one needs a response.
We are still using kludges to represent stress in the Latin script
because *orthographies* for most languages customarily written with the
Latin script don't have clear conventions for indicating stress as a
part of the orthography.
When an orthography has a well-developed convention for indicating
stress, then we can look at how that convention is represented in the
plain text representation of that orthography. An obvious case is
notational systems for the representation of pronunciation of English
words in dictionaries. Those conventions *do* then have plain text
representations in Unicode, because, well, they just have various
additional characters and/or combining marks to clearly indicate lexical
stress. But standard written English orthography does *not*. (BTW, that
is in part because marking stress in written English would usually
*decrease* legibility and the usefulness of the writing, rather than
Furthermore, there is nothing inherent about *stress* per se in the
Latin script (or any other script, for that matter). Lexical stress is a
phonological system, not shared or structured the same way in all
languages. And there are *thousands* of languages written with the Latin
script -- with all kinds of phonological systems associated with them.
Some have lexical tones, some do not. Some have other kinds of
phonological accentuation systems that don't count as lexical stress,
And there are differences between lexical stress (and its indication),
and other kinds of "stress". Contrastive stress, which is way more
interesting to consider as a part of writing, IMO, than lexical stress,
is a *prosodic* phenomenon, not a lexical one. (And I have been using
the email convention of asterisks here to indicate contrastive stress in
multiple instances.) And contrastive stress is far from the only kind of
communicatively significant pitch phenomenon in speech that typically
isn't formally represented in standard orthographies. There are numerous
complex scoring systems for linguistic prosody that have been developed
by linguists interested in those phenomenon -- which include issues of
pace and rhythm, and not merely pitch contours and loudness.
It isn't the job of the Unicode Consortium or the Unicode Standard to
sort that stuff out or to standardize characters to represent it. When
somebody brings to the UTC written examples of established orthographies
using character conventions that cannot be clearly conveyed in plain
text with the Unicode characters we already have, *then* perhaps we will
have something to talk about.
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