tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Jun 23 19:10:19 2009

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Re: Klingon orthography (was: Okrand at qep'a')

Mark E. Shoulson (mark@kli.org) [KLI Member] [Hol po'wI']



OK, there is much healthy debate going on here--and it really does seem 
to be mostly healthy debate, for which I am grateful.

I only have a few things to mention.

First and foremost, nobody is allowed to point to the fact that the web 
archive of this discussion has all Michael's trans-ASCII letters screwed 
up and misencoded.  That's my fault and my responsibility, and a 
badly-configured system shouldn't count against things (no idea how I'm 
going to fix it).  And yes, I believe that this is inherently different 
from Google's case-folding.  Case-folding is not a misfeature, it is not 
a mistake, it is also not unique to Google.  Case-folding is not 
supposed to alter the identities of words in a serious way.  Yes, it can 
introduce some ambiguities in edge-cases in English, where you have some 
need to distinguish the start of the day from a person named Dawn or 
something.  But folding together two unrelated and distinct letters is 
something else.  The ambiguities introduced by folding q/Q are not 
trivial, or we wouldn't bother distinguishing them in the first place.  
There does not appear to be any reason within the language to consider 
the two phonemes to be related lexically.

Whether or not Paramount will let a new dictionary be published is not 
something we are going to answer here, and shouldn't be a determining 
factor anyway.  Paramount has their own problems and their own goals.  
We have ours.

Restricting any reform to pure ASCII is not necessarily a bad idea.  Nor 
is reaching outside of ASCII for æsthetic reasons necessarily a 
disastrous move.

Some consideration must be given to the inertia of the current 
orthography.  Any new one should be somehow recognizable and not cause 
ambiguity due to uncertainty of which system it's in (so just replacing 
q->k and Q->q is likely not such a great move, since a word like {qaq} 
could be two different things depending on which orthography is meant).  
Just another consideration to keep in mind.

Digraphs for single sounds/"letters" are not necessarily evil things in 
a language.  Welsh manages okay, and Unicode has support for sorting and 
otherwise dealing with such things.

Now back to your discussion...

~mark







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