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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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When was the first bicameral script developed?

The Wikipedia article on letter case says this without citing any references: Both majuscule and minuscule letters existed, but the difference between the two variants was initially stylistic ...
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Do any modern orthographies use capital esh?

The letter "esh" (ʃ) is well-known from the IPA, and is also used in some languages' orthographies. Because of this second use case, Unicode includes a capital esh at U+01A9 LATIN CAPITAL LETTER ESH (...
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Is there any language where each character is pronounced differently depending on the word it's in?

Languages like Japanese have different pronunciations for each character (in the kanji system in this case) , a kanji character can have up to 20 different pronunciations depending on the the word it ...
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Why is “ß” not used in Swiss German?

What are some of the historical reasons why the orthographic symbol ß is not used in Swiss Standard German and “ss” is used instead?
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Origin of h as a modifier letter

A silly what-if question that sounds a bit mad: I am curious as to why the letter "H" in English and some other European languages is used as a modifier to make diglyphs represent a single phoneme (ch,...
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What is a loan creation?

How is it different from a loanword? One example given was mitkind created on stimulus of English sibling. Does this mean mitkind is a new word but with a foreign sense? Is there such thing as loaning ...
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What IPA does in these complex cases

I'm trying to think of examples where the IPA symbols get really complex, and find phonologies with those symbols. I'm not quite there in understanding all the aspects of IPA, but I wanted to see if ...
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1answer
141 views

Other languages like English whose orthography is “not quite” phonetic

Most languages it seems are pretty much phonetic. (I'm only focusing on alphabet languages, so not Chinese for example). From what I've seen, Spanish is phonetic, Cherokee too, Finnish, Inuktitut, and ...
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System for intermixing IPA with Orthography

So in English the word hi sounds like /haɪ/, but can be spelled "hi", "high", etc. So if you wanted to define the word "high" in English you would have to write two things: high (the spelling/...
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Would anything bad happen if we made our alphabet represent the phonemes more accurately?

Using it to represent phones is of course bonkers, it would make much more likely for an unitary language to be split apart. When we are dealing with phonemes that problem is inexistent in my opinion, ...
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In what ways does Arabic use letters as orthographic signs without phonetic significance?

ا (alif) and و when used as orthographic signs without phonetic significance are not represented in romanization. fa‘alū فعلوا ulā’ika أوقية ūqīyah أولائك — ALA-LC guide to ...
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Languages without orthographic stress marks that still have words that differ based on stress

Wondering about languages with stress that don't mark it orthographically. For example, the only two languages I know of that actually mark stress are Ancient Greek and Spanish. It seems that marking ...
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If romanization can be reversed (back to original script) in some languages

So it turns out that pinyin can't be reversed back to Chinese characters. However, I keep seeing images like the ones below for different languages (the images below are for Hindi and Japanese, but ...
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How to annotate “popping” vs. non-popping sounds of sequential consonants

How to write (orthography) words in a distinct way to capture the essence of these pronunciations (I'll try to use IPA but probably will do it wrong so adding another variation). hip /hɪp/ hipo /hɪpo/...
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Verifying these resources are accurate written representations for each language using Latin script

I am a bit confused by the languages that use the Latin script, not sure if the version of the Latin script they are using is a transliteration of something else, or if that is actually what the ...
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Example of a language with tones, stress, and umlauts all in one (or something more complex)

Wondering what the languages have the most bells and whistles added to latin characters. For example, pinyin has ǘ which has the umlaut and the acute accent (just 2 additions). But I'm wondering if ...
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What is the technical term for alternative spellings?

If two subcultures use the same realization (pronunciation) of the same word form (particular inflection of a word) but spell it differently, what is the technical term for the alternative spellings? ...
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Is it possible to read the narrow IPA transcription of one's native/fluent language as effortlessly and quickly as its conventional orthography?

it seems there's no neurolinguistic limit on how many letters can a language's alphabet have (it varies a lot between languages), the IPA is a huge phonetic alphabet, As of the most recent change in ...
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Is calling a spelling “defective” acceptable in the linguistics of languages other than Hebrew/Aramaic?

Most of my work has been done in Hebrew where describing a spelling as "defective" is common and accepted. Is this wording current in other areas of linguistics or would something like "(not) spelled ...
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Three questions regarding the distinctions between certain broad and slender sounds in Irish

I think I've got the distinction between broad and slender consonants in Irish more or less down, but a few details keep eluding me: 1. What on earth is the difference in pronunciation between "mar" ...
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1answer
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Any languages that don't have consecutive letters?

I was wondering if anyone knew of a language (real or fictional!) that did not contain any double consecutive letters (like the double t in "letters"). Thanks!
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The letter “ff” in the name “Richard ffrench”?

I have a book called "A guide to the birds of Trinidad and Tobago" and the author is named as "Richard ffrench" with a small "f". The author's name is spelled the same way by the Library of Congress, ...
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Are the diphthongs “ae” and “ea” essentially identical? [closed]

Originally, the word "tea" was pronounced "tay", which would suggest that a simple "e" is short (pronounced "eh") and by adding the "a", it becomes long "ay". However, we also have the diphthong "ae",...
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Can a written language get away without punctuation marks?

I had a thought a few days ago while I was thinking about conlangs. If a language had a strict verb-final order, it could easily get away without using punctuation to show the end of a sentence. ...
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1answer
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When did Nguni languages like Zulu adopt capitalisation of proper noun roots?

Motivated by Is the lowercase first letter of a proper noun common in the Swazi language? Zulu, and the other https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nguni_languages as user@6726 reports in his answer there, ...
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1answer
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Has the letter ⟨u⟩ in english ever historically represented the phonemes /y/ or /ʏ/?

English's spelling was changed after sometime and became more like French in some areas, such as the digraph ⟨ou⟩ to represent /u/, after ⟨u⟩ came to represent /ʊ~ʌ/. The reason I ask this, however, ...
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Why do we censor vowels, rather than consonants?

My first question on this site, so please be somewhat lenient :)) My question, put succinctly: Why do we asterisk the vowels in profane words, rather than the consonants? Now, just a disclaimer, ...
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2answers
381 views

Julius Caesar original name spelling?

Was Julius Caesar originally spelled with and I before "J" was invented? Or was it spelled some other way? If so, how? I'm curious.
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100 views

Initials in Greek

Does modern Greek use initials and/or initialisms? Like similarly to how we might call John Kennedy John F. Kennedy or JFK, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation the FBI.
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Why does the English Alphabet sometimes function like a syllabary?

One of the things that I never really noticed growing up until I began learning about other languages and the elegance of writing systems is how, in America for sure, we use letters like syllabic ...
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2answers
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Any proposals for Modern Greek spelling reform?

The orthography of Modern Greek is to a great extent historical and, therefore, complicated. There are multiple spelling variations for [i], [e] and [o] sounds, and awkward digraphs to represent [b], [...
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Where might the given name Xelefon originate?

I was recently reading some historical records wherein a lady was mentioned, Olga Malar (née Cuch), born in "Napodiwka," Poland, in 1922. She was said to be the daughter of Xelefon Cuch and Jewdokia ...
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Does the Telugu script have near perfect phonemic orthography?

I was trying to find the proper term for when a language's alphabet has one to one correspondence between the letters written and the pronunciation for those letters. Turns out its called phonemic ...
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1answer
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Why Did Koiné Greek Still Write Double Letters?

Languages develop double consonants and other quirks for different reasons -- English' double consonants were originally developed because the consonants were doubled in speech, like Latin, and that ...
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Is there a standard system for transcribing modern Irish in Ogham?

Ogham is historically used to write Old Irish and Primitive Irish, but I have not been able to find any evidence of its use persisting in modern Irish. It does not have a nice correspondence with the ...
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1answer
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Do letters of the alphabet count as glyphs? [closed]

After reading a little bit about glyphs, and their importance in typography, I am left wondering whether the letter α would count as a glyph in Ancient Greek, or whether only diacritical marks such as ...
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Why can “autarchy” be spelled with an “k” while other words not? [closed]

English has a set of words with "ch", coming — more or less directly — from the Greek language. They all have a /k/ sound. character charisma psychology choreography archive Just to name a few. All ...
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1answer
181 views

Vietnamese Spelling Irregularities

The Case with Mandarin I’m quite familiar with Chinese Pinyin, and I know it has some irregularities with how it represents it phonemes: The use of <y>/<w>/<yu> when <i>/<...
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Significance of 'ฯ' in English orthography

The special characters page of my English keyboard on Android contains what appears to be a Thai character (ฯ). I've so far found that it is used as a kind of punctuation or phrase-shortening particle ...
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What is the function of the soft sign (Ь) in Russian?

After some searching, I'm still unsure about what function the soft sign (Ь) performs in Russian. I have read that it indicates declension, palatisation, and iotation in different contexts, but with ...
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1answer
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Transliteration of Cyrillic

I have created a language that uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but I'm unsure as to how I can transliterate these letters for English-speaking readers: Ii - this is pronounced as a hard letter 'i', as in ...
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3answers
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What's up with the letter W?

English is an interesting and incestuous mangling of stuff. I sometimes think about W and it is a pretty interesting letter with much mystery and intrigue. In French, oui begins with a W sound, yet ...
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Why does “Vacuum” have two “u's,” and how is it pronounced?

I am curious, why does "vacuum" have two "u's?" I am aware that it is a Latin-derived-Word, so therefore it was probably pronounced [wakwum], logically. Is this correct? I can understand us English ...
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Are syllable initial consonant clusters pronounced in Ancient Greek?

A number of loan words and New Latin words derived from Ancient Greek have word initial clusters of a plosive+nasal or dissimilar phonemes like /ps/ or /pt/. I cannot avoid aspirating or inserting a ...
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1answer
120 views

Can Egyptian hieroglyphs (or other hieroglyphs) be construed as having anything like Chinese radicals?

I wonder if any hieroglyph-like orthographies use semantic radicals in a way comparable to how Mandarin Chinese does, or if the radical is unique to Chinese and other similar languages?
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Why does the Malayalam script have seemingly redundant ways to kill implicit vowels?

In the Malayalam script there are two ways to kill implicit vowels. The most widely applicable is the chandrakkala diacritic, similar to the virama that appears in other Brahmic scripts. There are ...
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1answer
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Is Old English ġe- a digraph representing [j]?

It's a naive question : I can't decide what's the value of "ġe" in Old English : either it's a digraph to be read [j], hence "ġeong" = [joŋɡ] (or [juŋɡ] ? as stated here). Such digraphs exist in ...
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1answer
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Pronunciation of ѧ and я in Old Novgorodian

In the first Wikipedia example of the Old Novgorod dialect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Novgorod_dialect both little yus ѧ and the new я is used. Is it just a random spelling difference? Do I ...
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1answer
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How can I calculate if the difference between two word frequencies in one corpus is significant?

I want to study orthographical variants, for example: Can firefighter and fire-fighter be considered orthographical variants (i.e. the difference in frequency in a corpus is not statistically ...
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2answers
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Why does Polish use “w” instead of “v”?

Polish spells /v/ as "w", and the "v" letter does not exist in the language. The other slavic languages using the latin alphabet are in a reverse situation, "v" is used exclusively and "w" does not ...