September112014

Although Romanizations like Penkyamp (and similar ones) use consonants to mark a short vowel, this may come across to English speakers as long instead.

Now this is just theoretical, and a trivial matter, but it might be interesting to note.

"Ai" and "ao" have traditionally been associated with "long" vowels, as /ai/ and /au/, and this is how they are pronounced when a Cantonese term using that spelling is pronounced in an Anglicized way. "Ae" and "au" have been used to represent the "short" counterparts /ɐi/ and /ɐu/ in a video and an old Chinese dictionary.

<ow> is used in Penkyamp to denote /ow/ under its analysis, which, following its rules, would contrast with <ou> /ɔ:w/ if it existed at all, as an ending <u> is used for preceding “long” vowels, like in <au> /a:w/ vs <aw> /ɐw/. So the <w> is used in Romanizations using a similar convention to denote, or imply, a preceding short vowel.

However, many English speakers describe the English sound /aʊ/ as “ow” (as opposed to “ou”), which is even employed in pronunciation respellings (not necessarily systems) in some dictionaries. In fact, “Low” has even been used in Singapore to approximate the sound of the surname “劉”.

Now regardless of whether it is spelt “ow” or “ou”, the digraphs could both represent the modern /aʊ/ or /u:/, but “ow” is generally more frequently chosen to describe the sound, though <ou> in non-English words may be pronounced by English speakers as /aʊ/ too.

Though, /aʊ/ came from the long vowel /u:/ in Middle English, so if you have to be pick a rule, <w> could be said to stand for a long sound (/u:/ > /aʊ/) more intuitively for the minds of English speakers, contrary to Penkyamp’s usage, where <w> denotes for a short sound.

September92014

A pan-dialectal (as Parke puts it) zhuyin-based phonetic (phonemic) writing is probably possible if the initial-medial(division+rounding)-shiep-tone (or tone before shiep) convention is converted to Zhuyin symbols. Each Chinese variety will then have their interpretation of the sounds of each Zhuyin symbol.

September72014
Although I don&#8217;t fully agree with Chao and Penkyamp&#8217;s analyses on Cantonese phonemes (read about mine here), they are the only Romanizations, along with the modified Penkyamp (Pengyam) that use this analysis, which has been getting popular (listed under Cantonese phonology in Wikipedia and used by Zaakjim Lam), I thought I could do them the favour of listing a Romanization that reflects that analyses in my mock dictionary. Given under LSHK and Yale are slightly modified versions of Eitel&#8217;s Romanization and the Pac-va-chi. The main differences being that the falling tone 1 is not marked (and marked as a level tone 1, though the same could be said of the Yale Romanization shown in these pictures) and numbers are used for the Pac-va-chi (primarily based on the original unmodified Romanization used in Macau), partially because of disagreements on its use of the tonal diacritics. Although probably not intentional (biased on the sounds of Portuguese), the PVC reflects the analysis used by Chao and Penkyamp. I have yet to list a Romanization that reflects my analysis in these though, partially having to do with the fuss of having too many Cantonese Romanizations in existence.

Although I don’t fully agree with Chao and Penkyamp’s analyses on Cantonese phonemes (read about mine here), they are the only Romanizations, along with the modified Penkyamp (Pengyam) that use this analysis, which has been getting popular (listed under Cantonese phonology in Wikipedia and used by Zaakjim Lam), I thought I could do them the favour of listing a Romanization that reflects that analyses in my mock dictionary. Given under LSHK and Yale are slightly modified versions of Eitel’s Romanization and the Pac-va-chi. The main differences being that the falling tone 1 is not marked (and marked as a level tone 1, though the same could be said of the Yale Romanization shown in these pictures) and numbers are used for the Pac-va-chi (primarily based on the original unmodified Romanization used in Macau), partially because of disagreements on its use of the tonal diacritics. Although probably not intentional (biased on the sounds of Portuguese), the PVC reflects the analysis used by Chao and Penkyamp. I have yet to list a Romanization that reflects my analysis in these though, partially having to do with the fuss of having too many Cantonese Romanizations in existence.

12AM

shogikappa:

A not-very-common misconception about Chinese:

That tones come inherently of words so when you spell “Beijing”, people will know to pronounce “Běijīng”.

6 notes
September62014

One of the things I’ve kept hearing about is Chinese adopting a phonetic script. Since the Chinese varieties are so different from one another, if each Chinese variety had their own phonetic script, learning a national language would certainly be harder than learning Standard Chinese today, since mostly people only have to learn a new pronunciation and some new characters, rather than learning like a whole script. Andrew Parke said that “the only way Chinese would work with a phonetic script is if some form of General Chinese was used.” According to Xidnaf’s video, the Thai writing system is somewhat similar to General Chinese. Now General Chinese would be pretty ill-suited for learning Mandarin, as there is much unpredictability when it comes to the entering tone. But let’s say, some modified form of General Chinese was used. Let’s check out how orthography and pronunciation would relate, suppose all Chinese varieties used the same diaphonemic writing. The following writing is based off of General Chinese, TCC and Zhuyin (with a bit of Vietnamese and Baxter’s MC Transcription). The sentence is written in Standard Written Chinese.
Ortho: Kim thien, ngâ´ khiu` lieu´ shiâng driâng mai´ i vuk.
Man: /tɕin˥ tʰjɛn˥ wɔ˨˩ tɕʰy˥˩ lə ʂaŋ˥ tʂʰaŋ˦˥ maɪ˨˩ i˥ fu˦˥/
Canto: [kɐm˥ tʰin˥ ŋɔ˩˨ hɵy˧ liu˩˨ sœŋ˥ tsʰœŋ˩ mai˩˨ ji˥ fʊk˨]

How fast could one convert the writing into the sounds? How intuitive is it? How different would it be if you grew up with it? What if they didn’t use the Roman letters for their writing, and used something unique to represent “b” and the other voiced sounds?

4 notes
2PM

"The spelling and pronunciation "yen" is standard in English. This is because mainly English speakers who visited Japan at the end of the Edo period to the early Meiji period spelled words this way. ゑん/wen/ in historical kana orthography. In the 16th century, Japanese /e/(え) and /we/(ゑ) both had been pronounced [je] and Portuguese missionaries had spelled them "ye".[6] Some time thereafter, by the middle of the 18th century, /e/ and /we/ came to be pronounced [e] as in modern Japanese, although some regions retain the [je] pronunciation." - Yen, Wikipedia
Aai tung andaasten. So “ゑ” was pronounced /je/ even? Maybe we should pronounce the historic kana spelt this way as /je/ then (among others like ゐ (wi) as /ji/), when trying to approximate a more modern, yet still archaic pronunciation?

3 notes
September52014

I’ve been thinking about how I should write historical Japanese pronunciations. Last time, I put “ofokami > owokami > ookami” in my picture, and noted in my accompanying essay that the は row was originally pronounced with a /p/. Writing “opokami” seems to imply that the word has not undergone other changes other than the p>f>w>— shift, which I’m not certain of. Most words have likely gone through other shifts, considering the phonology and syllable structure of Old Japanese (voiced consonants cannot come at the beginning of a word, there was no moraic nasal, there were more vowels, etc.). Therefore, I chose to follow Wikipedia and just list the pronunciation with the “f” sound when I talk about shifts from historical Japanese.

其實我諗過關於寫古日文羅馬字嘅時候…
上次, 我都只係寫ofokami > owokami > ookami, 同埋喺文字上note咗は行原本發/p/音, 因為寫”opokami”會好似暗示Old Japanese(唔係Middle Japanese)到摩登日文串法完全無改變, 淨係發音有. 應該都唔係呢一回事, 所以我採用咗維基嗰種由 f 音開始寫起.

2 notes
12PM

Mistakes in Guides for Wade-Giles

Wikipedia, as well as various sources, have given false information about the Romanization Wade-Giles. These sources have wrote that the Hanyu Pinyin -e (as in Tangent /ə/) is written as “o” or “ê” (sometimes even given as “e”), but “o” after velars, while the pinyin -uo is written as “o”, but “uo” after velars and in “shuo”. This is false, and here’s why.

Now it isn’t the first time they have made mistakes. Wikipedia’s article on Latinxua Sin Wenz previously wrote that the pinyin j- q- x- are written as g- k- x-, though the name of the writing has “Sin” for pinyin “xin”, so “there appears to be some interchangeability”. Currently, the article has been somewhat fixed to specify that in deciding whether to use g- k- x- or z- c- s-, one should refer to historical pronunciation. Or, you could actually refer to Chinese varieties which still keep the round-sharp distinction: Hakka, Yue and Min: 曉 is xiao while 小 is siao.

Anyway, back to Wade-Giles.

In modern Mandarin, there is no phonemic distinction (other than for interjections) between -uo and -o. So the medial -u- is inserted even if there historically was never one. The guides claim that “o” is used after non-velars for /ə/, but “uo” after velars “and in shuo”. They have actually overlooked (as the difference of ge and ko is more noticeable when reading Wade-Giles) what is most probably the pronunciation of Mandarin at the time Wade-Giles was developed. Given below are the TCC and my theoretical Wade-Giles Romanization of some characters (without tones):

哥 (ge) - ko - kâ
刻 (ke) - k‘ê - khêk
多 (duo) - to - tâ
過 (guo) - kuo - kwâ

Wade-Giles writes 哥 as “ko”, which is just as the online guides say, and this makes sense too. It is â in TCC, which corresponds to the modern o in Mandarin, except in compounds (and at a later stage, after velars): like for instance, 魔 is “mwâ” in TCC, and “mo” in Mandarin. This all makes sense.

However, it does not make sense that “刻” is written as “k‘o” (note that a forward quote should be used instead of <’>). It did not come from a historical â. What’s more, 哥 is pronounced “ko” (pronunciation given in Eitel) in Cantonese, so “ko” in Mandarin would make sense. However, “刻” is pronounced “hák” in Cantonese. So “ko” does not make sense. From 校改國音字典, the pronunciation of “哥” is ㄍㄛ /kɔ/ while that of “刻” is ㄎㄜ /kʰə/ (again, phonemic representation given in Tangent’s analysis, phonetically [kʰɯ̯ʌ~kʰɤ]) in 老國音, which supports my statement. Therefore, “o” is used when it was pronounced /ɔ/, while “ê” is used when it was pronounced /ə/ (can be checked with ease from say the Cantonese pronunciation or from the Kwangwun/廣韻). The statement that “pinyin -e is written as <o> after velars” is false.

Secondly, the guides wrote that “pinyin -uo is written as <o> except after velars, where it is written as <uo>, and in shuo”. This is again, not true, and Wade-Giles reflected the pronunciation at the time. Again, here are four characters for comparison. On the left is the Wade-Giles Romanization and on the right is pinyin.

多: to - duo (TCC tâ)
羅: lo - luo (lâ)
過: kuo - guo (kwâ)
哥: ko - ge (kâ)
說 (as in 說話): shuo - shuo (shiuet)

As you can see, characters like 多 and 羅 did not historically carry the medial -u-, thus Wade-Giles has not written them. (多 is given as ㄉㄛ /tɔ/ in 老國音) By modern Mandarin, phonemic distinction between -o and -uo has been lost, and as previously stated, the medial -u- has been added in front of -o (except after velars, where the -o turns into Tangent /ə/).

As can be seen from the TCC, it just happens so that “過”, “戈” and similar characters were pronounced with the medial (it is “kwo” in Cantonese). Therefore Wade-Giles has written the “u”. It is not an exception for velar initials.

As for 說, as in 說話, its pronunciation in 老國音 is ㄕㄨㄛ [ʂu̯ɔ]. Palatalization is lost after retroflex sibilants, so the /i/ is lost, and following the loss of final stops, the “e” becomes an “o” sound as [u̯ɛ] didn’t exist. Similar cases exist in Hakka, regarding the change of TCC -iue- to -o-. For example: 船 is son in Hakka. In addition, Chao writes “說” as “shot” in General Chinese. But anyway, Wade-Giles did not single out the syllable “shuo”. The character 說 was pronounced “shuo”, and it was thus written this way, and characters that were pronounced [ʂu̯ɔ] (Tangent /ʂwɔ/) and [ʂɔ] are written as <shuo> and <sho> in Wade-Giles respectively, with respect to the pronunciations at the time.

In conclusion, the apparently inconsistencies in Wade-Giles with -o, -uo and -ê are not actually inconsistencies, but how the characters were likely pronounced at the time. As for writing /ɛ/ as “e” and “eh”, it is written as “eh” only syllable-finally, as a word-final <e> gets different pronunciations in different languages (silent in French, for instance). If the ending sound is /ə/ though, it would be written as <ê>, thus the circumflex indicates how it should be pronounced.

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September32014

Apparently, since “qui” is pronounced “ki” in Portuguese, they usually write the Vietnamese /kwi/ as “quy”, as it’s an alternate thing that makes the same sound without the “qu” > /k/ rule specifically as that rule is “supposed” to apply to only <i> and <e>, but not <y>.

Like how /k/ is palatalized before i and e so writing <k> instead of <c> doesn’t actually change anything but it’s become an alternative that’s accepted.

September22014

Currently there are two relatively common analyses on Cantonese phonology:

1. The one used by Jones, S. L. Wong and Yale: [ɪ], [ʊ] and [ɵ] are treated as allophones of /i/, /u/ and /œ/ respectively. This has led to the interpretation that [e] and [o] are allophones of /ɛ/ and /ɔ/.

2. The one used by Chao and Penkyamp, which also coincides with the representation given by the fictional Pac-va-chi, where [ɪ], [ʊ] and [ɵ] are treated as /e/ and /o/ respectively, with [ʊ] and [ɵ] considered to be the same phoneme.

See this picture (which I’ve posted before):

image

Pac-va-chi would write the sounds as, in order: am âm eng êng un ông ôn oi ôi, where <ô> (likely coincidentally) represents /o/ under the second analysis.

The approach by historical phonology has previously been commented on, so I will not do that here.

I personally consider [ɪ] to be an allophone of /i/ and [ʊ] and [ɵ] to be under the same phoneme, but not much beyond that.

Before I looked into Middle Chinese, I always listed all the vowels in Cantonese in a similar fashion to this:

image

I have considered [e] an assimilated form of /ɛ/ and [o] an assimilated /ɔ/. After looking into Middle Chinese though, from the perspective of it, /ei/ came from an opened */i/ while /ou/ came both ways: an opened */u/ and */ɑu/. /ɑ/ corresponds to /ɔ/ in Cantonese (this is one of the conversion rules for TCC), so /ɑu/ becomes /ɔu/, which further assimilates to the /u/ into /ou/. Hence I consider [o] to be under the phoneme /ɔ/.

The reason I consider [ʊ] and [ɵ] to be under the same phoneme has already been mentioned before, so I will not repeat myself here, but one point to add would be that if the final nasal of [ʊŋ] develarizes, it would sound like [ɵn]. Although Eitel writes [ʊ] and [ɵ] as <u> (contrasted with <ú> /u/), writing the phoneme of [ʊ~ɵ] as /ʊ/ may not be the most faithful to Cantonese phonology, as “/i/ laxes before velars” is part of my analysis. As such, the phoneme is probably better written as /ɵ/, which “laxes to [ʊ] before velars”.

The fact that [œ] and [ɵ] do not overlap has led to Jones and S. L. Wong analysing them as the same phoneme, but [y] and [œ] do not contrast either, yet they are not considered allophones. Though, Chao associates all the non-overlapping sounds to another sound, and represents /u/ and /y/ both as <u> (this may not necessarily mean he considers them the same phoneme though. It could be a morphophoneme, but the Cantonese /u/ and /y/ do not show signs of historical complimentary distribution in a way that suggests they’re the same phoneme). Plus, Zeng Zi has mentioned the cases with the Cantonese dut1 and dyut1, where /u/ and /y/ contrast, “even though they were originally onomatopoeia”.

Edit: I also consider vowels to be long only when there is no consonant coda coming after it (e.g. the o in gwo3 is long, but the ones in hoi1 or gok3 are not).

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