Charles Butler chazzer3 at EROLS.COM
Tue Sep 23 14:53:47 UTC 2003

As I sent to one person on the list, there already is an alphabet based on
the movement of the lips, mouth and teeth.  It's Korean, which was
specifically developed as such.  I don't have the graphics in front of me,
but it's meant to be an alphabet from looking at the shape of the mouth.

Charles Butler

----- Original Message -----
From: Sandy Fleming <sandy at FLEIMIN.DEMON.CO.UK>
To: <SW-L at admin.humberc.on.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 8:30 AM

> Hi Neil and all!
> > Actually, the tongue is placed between the teeth for the "th" sound--not
> > turned up like for the "L" sound. Incidentally, there are two different
> > sounds for "th" although both look the same on the lips. A voiced "th"
> > in "those" and a voiceless "th" as in "think". We'd need a way of
> > showing this.
> The tongue seems very slightly turned up when I say it. I pronounce some
> words with the "l" turned up, others with it flat. It may be my Scottish
> accent  :)
> Yes, for the "those"-type sound we would just need the "~" to show the
> chords vibrating.
> > One of the big problems is that several sounds/shapes look
> > exactly the same
> > on a person's lips but they are different if you can hear them. For
> > example, the sounds of "P", "B" and "M" all look identical, so do "F"
> > "V" so you can only separate them by their sounds--not their mouth
> > We call such sounds homophenes.
> Again, the difference can be shown by vocal chords vibrating, as for the
> and "a" sounds in my diagram.
> > English is a VERY ambiguous language in this respect. For example, the
> > words shoot, June, shoes, juice, Jews and choose all look identical on a
> > person's lips. So do the words sheep, cheap and jeep. So do the
> > words quiet
> > and white--and on and on it goes. There are hundreds and hundreds of
> > identically shaped words that sound different.
> But these are all physically different, so a movement notation should be
> able to show it. The difference between "juice" and "Jews" is in the
> vibration of the vocal chords again for the last consonant sound, and
> of the vowel, and the difference between the first consonant of "cheap"
> "jeep" is again vocal chord vibration, while the difference between
> and "cheap" is the initial position of the tongue.
> I admit, though, that the differences are more subtle than the movements
> SignWriting and would take some linguistic training to be able to
> distinguish. So while it's not good for an actual writing system, it might
> be useful to linguists as an alternative to the IPA alphabet, and may be
> better for experessing how sounds are really produced in different
> and dialects, rather than depending on knowing the hundreds of arbitrary
> symbols that the current IPA alphabet has grown into.
> > I'd be interested if someone has a solution of how to overcome
> > this problem
> > in a writing notation.
> I think all the physical phenomena in oral language production are well
> understood these days and could be translated into a movement notation
> the lines I'm suggesting.
> > One of these years I'll get around to finishing my book on speechreading
> > called "We Hear With Our Eyes--the Art and Science of Speechreading." In
> > the meantime, I have a few other books I need to finish before this one.
> If it would give me 100% ability to understand spoken languages without
> being able to hear, then from my point of view, no other book anybody's
> writing could possibly be more important!
> Sandy

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