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comment by coffeesp00ns
coffeesp00ns  ·  896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Hubski, I have a language question

the question your comment brings up to me is how many dead ends (that stick around, of course, who knows what has staying power?) does it take for written language and spoken language to diverge, and what do you do when that happens? This is something English has had a continual problem with for a LOT of reasons, and for a very, very long time. Indeed, it goes back to a point where English is definably "English", and not "that weird Old High German/Cornish hybrid the locals use."

See, English was not a "written" language, per se, for a long time. Like, it had an alphabet, and you could use it to write English words, but all the people who spoke english on the daily were either illiterate, or wrote in Latin or French (the two court languages, because England had french kings). What little that is written down in english is mostly transcripts. As a result, our written language and our spoken language were very close (and words were often spelled how they sounded).

but as we wrote in english more often, and people like Mulcaster and Cawdrey are starting to write "dictionaries" that are setting spellings more in stone, written language starts to seize up, while spoken language remains fluid. Our two ways of communicating start to diverge. Eventually, they can potentially separate. We know this, because it's already happened in Japanese and Chinese, and we also know it's started to happen in English because of how you basically have to "learn a new language" to write an essay. It's because in some ways you are, and it's not just all down to the academic/casual split.

Look at what you do so often on here - how many comments of several thousand words have you written here that are not just well written, but also cited? How about over the course of your history on the internet? But none of these is an "essay". I'd argue the only real reason why is that you're writing more like how you speak, and less like how you're "supposed" to write. That differentiation shows the seams between out written language and our spoken one.

Anyway.

Yooj's real problem is, as has been linked elsewhere in the thread, is that it uses a phoneme that english doesn't have a letter combination to describe. There's a phonetic symbol, "ʒ" that you can use, but then you have to find whatever unicode number that symbol is, memorize it, and type it in.

At the end of the day, my question is, though the lens of "Usʒ", how do we use what letters we have to write down this phoneme? English is as stripped back as germanic languages get. We have no accents, we have no real genders, we have almost as few letters in our alphabet as we can get away with (we could probably lose C if you wanted to fight about it). It's incredibly unlikely that we'll add a special symbol just for a phoneme - So with that in mind, how do we deal with "ʒ"?

That's what I'm trying to get into, i guess.





kleinbl00  ·  896 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think the bigger (more interesting) question really gets into what "language" is.

The first time I found out about registers was when studying Thai. It took me years to figure out that English has at least as many registers as Thai - and that I, perhaps more deliberately but no more skillfully than most, use them all depending on my audience. "Essay" is a funny way to look at it considering everyone from Shel Silverstein to William F. Buckley wrote "essays" and no two essayists write the same. So is a dialect a new language? When did Portuguese become Portuguese instead of the Portuguese dialect of Spanish? When will Brazilian cease to be Portuguese? When will Cuban cease to be Spanish? I would argue that this point is arbitrarily assigned.

    At the end of the day, my question is, though the lens of "Usʒ", how do we use what letters we have to write down this phoneme?

At the end of the day, my point is, you don't. Fetch ain't gonna happen. English is an incredibly versatile language but the other words we have with a zh are either borrowed or ancient. "yoozh" is a new word with no alphabet and also

    However most Spanish speakers can't hear the difference between /ʒ/ and /ʃ/ and they are not aware that vision /ˈvɪʒən/ and mission /ˈmɪʃən/ don't rhyme.

So there's that.

Look - goobster's articles indicate that people have been trying to make Fetch happen since 2009 or earlier but I'm with this guy:

    Respelling systems deployed to show pronunciation in some monoglot English dictionaries (notably those published in the USA) represent ʒ as zh pretty much without exception. So one can say that writing zh is a well-established convention, despite the claim in Wikipedia that it is ‘ad hoc’.

    The only European language that uses zh for ʒ (or for anything else) in standard orthography appears to be Albanian — not a language often learned by outsiders. I can’t think of any non-European languages that use it, either.

It is plainly, obviously yoozh to me and a yoozh is so obviously a horrible sound made by an orifice in your body you were previously unaware of that I'm revolted simply from typing it. The fact that there's argument about a fucking obvious combo like "zh" indicates that my revulsion is not unique.

Thus, the word will die, no matter how many writers want Fetch to happen.

galen  ·  545 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    See, English was not a "written" language, per se, for a long time. Like, it had an alphabet, and you could use it to write English words, but all the people who spoke english on the daily were either illiterate, or wrote in Latin or French (the two court languages, because England had french kings). What little that is written down in english is mostly transcripts. As a result, our written language and our spoken language were very close (and words were often spelled how they sounded).

    but as we wrote in english more often, and people like Mulcaster and Cawdrey are starting to write "dictionaries" that are setting spellings more in stone, written language starts to seize up, while spoken language remains fluid.

I took a class on this! Fun anecdote making fun of Mulcaster: Noah Webster wrote in 1790 that stigmatizing the double negative in English is fucking stupid, because it is! "In Chaucer's time, the English [...] used two negatives. [...] It might have been well never to have changed the practice: as the common people still adhere to it; and the change has made a perpetual useless difference between the language of books and conversation." (Rudiments, p. 50)

The claim that 18c. grammarians were responsible for the standardization of the English language is generally way more questionable than many would assert (Mulcaster, for example, claimed only to codify existing consensus forms defined by "the use & custom of our countrie"), but Latin grammar rules like the double negative were definitely their fault. Combined with stylistic elaboration in the ME period (French & Latin influence), that was the beginning of real differentiation between the spoken and the written register in English. Of course, we have a lot more registers than just two now ;)