Questions tagged [orthography]

Orthography is a set of rules that determine the correct way of writing in a certain language, including norms about spelling, punctuation and word breaks. Orthography is usually not considered part of natural language or grammar itself and therefore not strictly a subject of linguistics, but sometimes of interest in investigating individual languages' pronunciation and writing systems.

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Are there modern languages without standardized spelling? If not, why?

Historically, English did not have standardized spelling; see e.g. this paragraph from the Washington Post: At one point, English speakers lived in a world without standardized spelling. According to ...
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16 votes
2 answers
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Ncuti Gatwa is, according to Wikipedia, pronounced /ˈʃuːti ˈɡætwɑː/ - where is the NC orthography derived from?

On trying to find the pronunciation of the name of Mizero Ncuti Gatwa, a Rwandan-Scottish actor who will be playing the Fourteenth Doctor, I noticed the NC pairing and its pronunciation is listed on ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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With the use of diacritics, is the Arabic abjad a shallow orthography?

The Arabic script is an abjad. Without diacritics, short vowels are inferred and so pronunciation may be different to what is expected. But if diacritics are used, they signify exactly how each word ...
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1 vote
2 answers
141 views

Does English have any words that are only unambiguous when spoken?

In Latin there are many words that are ambiguous when written, but unambiguous when spoken. For example, palus with a long A and short U means a stake. But palus with a short A and long U means a ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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How is Urkesh spelled in cuneiform?

I can only find two cuneiform inscriptions mentioning "Urkesh", here. It seems to be spelled differently in the two tablets. Is it 𒌨𒄊? Is the second grapheme of "Urkesh" in ...
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0 votes
0 answers
38 views

Why some triphthongs are retained orthographically in Arabic, but not others

According to Ahmad Al-Jallad's "A manual of the historical grammar of Arabic", a sound change from old to classical Arabic was the collapse of triphthongs. These triphthongs are sometimes ...
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3 votes
1 answer
374 views

Why does lower case "a" look so different from capital "A"?

Despite my best efforts, I can not find the answer specifically for "a" online. For the rest of the letters of the Latin alphabet, I can see the connection between the different forms (...
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0 votes
1 answer
153 views

Do other languages using the Latin alphabet borrow diacritics from one another?

I've always found the convention of borrowing diacritics on foreign names and occasionally words (although the latter is less standard) from other languages with Latin alphabets in written English to ...
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1 vote
2 answers
215 views

Why was 'u' invented?

In the history of the letter 'v', Wikipedia mentions the origin of 'u' but unfortunately doesn't describe why it was created in the first place: During the Late Middle Ages, two minuscule glyphs ...
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0 votes
1 answer
110 views

Why does the pronoun and verb order vary in Polish language?

My go nie lubimy - we do not like him On nie kocha mnie - he does not love me Why in the first example go is followed by nie lubimy, but in the second sentence we have the opposite: nie kocha followed ...
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1 vote
1 answer
90 views

Why is the Croatian word "pjena" (foam) spelt with "je" as if it were from Slavic yat, rather than "i", as it is from Slavic "y"?

Why is the Croatian word "pjena" (foam) spelt with "je" as if it were from Slavic yat, rather than "i", as it is from Slavic "y"? We know it is from Slavic &...
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-3 votes
1 answer
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What language (if it is a language) is it? [closed]

It looks close to Arabic, but it isn't. I wasn't able to identify which language is it using different scanning tools (including Google Translate app). Thanks. Edit: if this isn't clear - I'm asking ...
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2 answers
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Is there a name for the idea of having grammatical rules for the purpose of easy pronunciation?

For instance, in German you'll have Der Mann singular, Die Männer plural, instead of, say, Die Männen. It seems this is because you don't want to over-expose the speaker to the "n" sound. ...
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4 votes
3 answers
436 views

How many sibilants did Old Akkadian cuneiform distinguish?

According to fdb's answer to another question: It is believed that Old Akkadian (at least) still retained the Semitic distinction of s₁, s₂ and s₃ and used different signs for syllables containing ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Why does shallow orthographic depth clearly not signify allophonic?

I'm asking merely about the first reason below that I colored in grey. How's "allophonic" "clearly not meant here", in the context of shallow orthographic depth? 9.7 Orthographic ...
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0 votes
1 answer
144 views

How do you tell a spelling mistake from a grammar mistake?

How do you tell a spelling mistake from a grammar mistake? For example: Your the best. This iz the end. I likes music. She preatend to be asleep. One method is to read the erroneous sentence aloud (...
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0 votes
1 answer
101 views

What linguistics degree(s) would best equip someone to develop written languages from oral ones?

If one wants to work with people-groups that have an oral language but no written language and develop a written language for those people-groups, what linguistics degree(s) would best equip that ...
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2 votes
1 answer
114 views

What is the best romanization of ח?

I have seen ח represented as ch, gh, kh, H (capitalized), x, h with diacritics, etc. Personally, I like using x, because it is a single letter and does not require special diacritic markings, etc ... ...
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12 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why are J, U, W considered part of the basic Latin Alphabet?

J, U, W are included in ISO basic Latin alphabet which consists of 26 letters. However, The classic Latin has only 23 letters, and J was only used as a variant of I as σ do to ς. J, U were not ...
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-4 votes
2 answers
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Non-standard English spelling and other things in 18th century writing -- how much due to quill pens?

I was just thinking how even in books and newspapers prior to the computer age, like in the 1950s and before, there were a lot of errors that are glaring now but I am sure were accepted then. So I ...
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3 votes
1 answer
93 views

How can one fill out the quadrat when a word consists of a single uniliteral?

In Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, glyphs are commonly arranged into quadrats (blocks) to minimize empty space. And I was taught that it's good style not to have a word boundary within a single quadrat....
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3 votes
0 answers
129 views

What was the original pronounciation of the Thai consonant symbols?

The Thai language was devised to serve two main purposes: to write Thai words and to write Sanskrit (or Pali) words. For this reason, the Thai alphabet has one consonant symbol for each Sanskrit sound ...
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1 vote
2 answers
146 views

What is the percentage of words that are phonemically regular in english?

I know that English has a deep orthography. I am wondering whether someone could tell me what the percentage of English words are governed by regular letter-sound rules? Thank you
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3 votes
0 answers
105 views

What is the official/correct orthography for Alsatian / Elsässisch German?

As per the Wikipedia article on the Alsatian language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alsatian_dialect#Orthography) the orthography includes the latin letters A,B,C ... X,Y,Z and the following vowels ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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Is there any other known use of the Graphemes 'ϑ' & 'δ' outside of Avestan?

I think Avestan is really fascinating, but this confuses me. Old Persian uses 'θ' which I think is a better way to write /θ/.
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5 votes
0 answers
81 views

In Armenian, which parts of each letter are intrinsic and must be demarcated from joining up strokes in joined-up handwriting?

My question [1] is about handwritten Armenian [2], but to illustrate what I am asking I will first say something about English and Russian, languages which are likely to be known by larger proportions ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
213 views

Are there any languages that don't "fit" on a keyboard?

The standard QWERTY keyboard has keys for all the letters in English, and also numbers, symbols and a few punctuation marks. Other languages, such as French, might have diacritics in their spelling. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
68 views

Is there a consensus on plene spellings in Anatolian?

"Plene" spellings (with extra vowel glyphs, like ma-a-an instead of ma-an or e-es-zi instead of es-zi) are common in Anatolian cuneiform. Sometimes they disambiguate between signs with ...
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-4 votes
1 answer
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List of major languages that can and cannot have their pronunciation generated programmatically from the spelling [closed]

Which languages can you directly convert the spelling of the word into a "standard" pronunciation? From my understanding so far: Chinese (through pinyin) Hebrew (seem to have a rigid ...
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11 votes
1 answer
154 views

Is there a standardized graphical encoding for cuneiform?

If I want to describe the Hittite version of the DIŊIR cuneiform glyph, I could say "a double-headed horizontal, crossing a vertical". In other words: This one's fairly straightforward, and ...
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14 votes
3 answers
304 views

term for gibberish intended to resemble specific language

Is any term identified, among linguists, for an effect by which some speech or text has no meaning, and yet superficially resembles, by following certain patterns, speech or text from a particular ...
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0 votes
2 answers
530 views

Why are there spelling inconsistencies in Southern European languages? What is the historical origin of this spelling pattern?

I noticed that in the Southern European languages, words change spelling to reserve the pronunciation. For example, in Spanish verbs have -ar, -er, and -ir conjugation classes. First person singular ...
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6 votes
1 answer
518 views

Was it ever common to pronounce "wife's" as "wives"?

Spelling, in principle, should reflect pronunciation, but I've also read that the opposite can happen, and that the pronunciation of a word already in circulation can be changed by altering/...
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0 votes
1 answer
98 views

If zh represents a /ʒ/ sound, then could gh represent a /dʒ/ or <j> sound? [closed]

The sound zh represents a voiced sh sound in Pinyin. The sound ch represents an unvoiced j. So, I was thinking that, because g is a voiced c (unless it is before an e or an i, and it should be a k, ...
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0 votes
0 answers
35 views

Ellipsis of noun phrase head when modifiers have different parts of speech

These sentences occur in the Mozilla UI strings: EN The sentence has a grammatical or spelling error. DE Der Satz beinhaltet einen grammatikalischen oder Rechtschreibfehler. The ...
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-5 votes
1 answer
161 views

Can all scripts be used to write all different languages?

I am thinking about making an introductory book to some different "languages", for self learning. But I realize I'm blending the writing system with the pronunciation system, and am starting to get ...
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5 votes
2 answers
181 views

Do any languages use distinct graphemes for vowels with different tones?

As far as I know, most writing systems for tonal languages fall into one of four groups: The writing system is not phonetic (e.g. Han logograms) Tone is not generally indicated in writing (e.g. many ...
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2 votes
0 answers
60 views

Are there formal linguistic understandings of misspelled words?

For example, I will assume that people make mistakes in spelling because, often, the misspelled words look similar enough to the intended words, so the communication can be made smoothly, but I wonder ...
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14 votes
5 answers
3k views

Are there languages where a change of character casing can lead to a different meaning of a word?

I'm no expert on linguistics. In fact I'm no even a proper amateur but please, bear with me on this: Are there any languages where a word would change its meaning depending on the casing of one or ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Looking for references about the orthographic transparency

I need to have two tables as showing both grapheme-phoneme and phoneme-grapheme relationships in a couple of languages to be compared mathematically. In fact, I want to know how many phonemes stand ...
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7 votes
2 answers
221 views

How do we know that Sumerian determinatives were not pronounced?

I've read the following in Edzard's "Sumerian Grammar" from 2003: Determinatives: these are signs which precede or follow words or names in order to specify them as belonging to semantic groups. ...
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4 votes
3 answers
271 views

Why do we make a distinction between letters and punctuation marks?

In English, for example, the word "don't" is made up of 4 letters ("d", "o", "n" and "t"), and one punctuation mark ("'"). However, there seems to me to be no reason for this distinction. Without any ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How should the Sumerian ergative marker be read?

In Foxvog's Sumerian grammar, he assumes that the ergative marker -e was pronounced as -e, even after the possessives -(a)ni and -bi. For example, he transcribes "her king" in the ergative as lugal-(a)...
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8 votes
0 answers
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Was the "a" glyph ever used for ajV in Hittite?

As fdb mentioned in a comment: The sequence a-a is a scribal convention for ajV [in Akkadian]. Some Assyriologists treat it as a single sign with the “Lautwert” aju, aji, aja In Hittite, ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What percentage of words or queries are misspelled in search queries?

What percentage of words or queries are misspelled in search queries? I couldn't find any decently recent study. {3} states: Dalianis measured that 10% of web search engine queries were misspelled ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
63 views

A possible diacritic for a silent و in Persian? [closed]

In modern Persian the و of "خوا" in many words is silent. خواب xāb ‘sleep, asleep; dream; the nap (of a cloth)’ خوابیدن xābidan infinitive: ‘to sleep, lie down’ Examples from the link ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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Why are the orthographies of Ancient/Proto Languages so Impractical?

For example: In the Romanization of Sumerian, /ŋ/ is written as ⟨g̃⟩ or ⟨ĝ⟩ instead of ⟨ng⟩ or even ⟨ŋ⟩. Also in Sumerian /t͡sʰ/ is written ⟨ř⟩ or ⟨dr⟩. The list goes on with Sumerian. In Proto-Indo-...
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4 votes
2 answers
186 views

How were glottal stops indicated in Akkadian cuneiform?

According to Huehnergard, Akkadian had a phonemic glottal stop. This makes sense, given the language's heritage. However, he doesn't seem to mention it anywhere in the chapters on orthography, and I ...
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0 votes
2 answers
68 views

What is the use or quality of the orthography-to-IPA mapping charts?

In relation to How to build a robust transliteration scheme across languages? I am now confused about orthography-to-IPA mappings, such as for Turkish. When you see the orthograph like the letter a ...
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1 vote
2 answers
114 views

How to build a robust transliteration scheme across languages?

So I am trying to imagine building a transliterator across languages that takes any language and converts it into IPA or some less-detailed equivalent (like a Romanization). I am thinking about ...
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