Route: spelling and pronunciation [and IPA vs. Orthographic respellings]

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Tue Jul 2 14:59:07 UTC 2002

On Sun, 30 Jun 2002, Thomas Paikeday wrote:

#TOM PAIKEDAY (pointing to the spelling of his name, the first syllable
#of which is not good orthography, but I didn't do it! Anyone who cares
#please say PYE- not PAY-).

Well, I seem to have deleted the exchange in which someone pointed out
that PYE- could be the beginning of "Pierre", and Tom replied, iirc,
that "Pierre" is not an English word, so I have to go by memory. This
"system" of respelling, then, is apparently only useable for native and
nativized words of American English, for some value of "nativized". How
is the naive user to determine the boundary? Or is this method intended
to be used actively only by experts, and only passively by others, such
as users of a dictionary?  How *would* you represent the pronunciations
of "Pierre" and other words that combine AEng phonemes but transgress
AEng phonotactics? Or are they simply excluded from consideration?

I had to face a very similar issue in constructing representations of
pronunciations at Dragon Systems. A senior scientist kept insisting that
there had to be some way of spelling each phoneme distinctly and
transparently to the naive user, answering each of my counterexamples
simply by shaking his head and repeating, "There's GOT to be a way."
There isn't: SOME learning is required, e.g., OOH for [u:] (the "oo" of
"mood" to you, Tom, or the "ui" of "suit") vs. OO for [U] (the "oo" of
"foot"). And it's especially impossible (imho) if you don't allow the
option, as we did, of separating multi-letter phoneme symbols with
spaces or hyphens: that's where the ambiguity of "PYE" arises.

Come to think of it, how do you respell "suit" and "foot"?

BTW, did you ever answer my other question, about dialectal
neutralizations such as which/witch and cot/caught?

-- Mark A. Mandel
   Linguist at Large

More information about the Ads-l mailing list