IPA in spreadsheets (was: antedating "hobo" 1885)

Nathan Sanders Nathan.Sanders at WILLIAMS.EDU
Fri May 29 03:25:18 UTC 2009

On May 28, 2009, at 10:36 PM, Tom Zurinskas wrote:

> Heck of a point, Nathan.  But looking at anything in wingdings
> doesn't look so good.  Does it?  And using only "letters of the
> alphabet" as truespel does shouldn't be much heartburn to other than
> the wingdingers.

Oh, it's certainly a minor issue.  I'm just trying to help you correct
the inaccuracies and emptiness of some of your claims about Truespel.
"Spreadsheet-friendly" and "email-friendly" just aren't all that
meaningful in a Unicode world, and your continued use of these
expressions betrays your technological naivete.

> You're right about the multi-letter phonemes.  You have to adjust
> for that in the search or filter process.

It's a huge adjustment to make and requires more than basic knowledge
of search string syntax (which varies from program to program).

Since I regularly search transcriptions, "not search-friendly" is, in
my opinion, a significant (essentially insurmountable) drawback for a
transcription system.

> True it's a pain in the butt, but the notation is at least English
> friendly enough for kids to learn and that's the key.

As far as I know, there are no kids on this list (and if there are,
they presumably already know how to read).  Truespel may or may not be
useful for helping children learn to read (I suspect not, since it's
just a second system for them to learn on top of regular English
spelling), but it's certainly completely inadequate for serious
linguistic usage, especially for describing dialects (the nominal
topic of this list!).

You might have better luck peddling Truespel to elementary school
English teachers (or perhaps home-schooling parents), not to linguists
or other professionals who need transcription systems to represent
finer phonetic distinctions than Truespel can make.


Nathan Sanders
Linguistics Program
Williams College

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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