Is English a logographic writing system?

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GrandPiano
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by GrandPiano » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 02:38

MoonRightRomantic wrote:Morphemic, my mistake. In any case different "dialects" (don't you mean accents?
Accents are just differences in pronunciation. Different dialects usually have not only different accents, but also different vocabulary and grammar. I'm pretty sure Salmoneus meant dialects, but specifically the differences in pronunciation between dialects.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by clawgrip » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 04:43

MoonRightRomantic wrote: Morphemic, my mistake. In any case different "dialects" (don't you mean accents?
In this case, the specific nomenclature is an irrelevant tangent. We all understand what is meant: that due to regional variation, not all English speakers employ the same set of phonemes in their speech, meaning that any universal English writing will require redundant letters for all speakers.

Sometimes, however, using proper terminology is important. Your constant flopping around ("English orthography is entirely logographic." ➡ "Sorry, I accidentally confused phonograms and logograms. " "phonemic orthography, not phonetic" ➡ "Morphemic, my mistake.") makes it hard to understand your point and makes it seem either like you don't know what you're talking about or you purposely keep changing it.

Also, if people around you constantly correct your pronunciation, it suggests the problem is not inherent to English (since all the people around you don't seem to have the same problem).
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by Sumelic » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 05:08

Salmoneus wrote:And if you think you 'mispronounce' your own language, then you don't understand how language works.
People can certainly mispronounce words in their own language. It's artificial to define "language" as only being the stuff people learn as children. That's the part of language that is most interesting to linguists, but people continue to learn parts of their own language into their adulthood. If they acquire a pronunciation that nobody else uses, we generally call it a mispronunciation. Obviously there are many cases where the "mispronunciation" actually becomes established in a group of people, causing it to become more or less a part of the language. So there is no binary distinction between "valid pronunciations" and "mispronunciations." But that doesn't mean you can't "mispronounce your own language." If I say /fəˈveɪ/ for "fovea," that's definitely a mispronunciation.
MoonRightRomantic wrote: I usually learn new words through reading. Everyone around me constantly corrects my pronunciation. Since English pronunciation is usually unrelated to spelling, I default to pronouncing every new word phonetically and thus usually wrong.
How are you wrong, though? I'd bet it's along the lines of getting the stress wrong, or vowel quality wrong, or pronouncing "s" between vowels as /s/ when it's supposed to be /z/ or vice versa. This shows that English pronunciation leaves out some phonemic information. So do most writing systems. English spelling is still largely phonemic. If it were logographic, you'd be more likely to be prone to mispronunciations along the lines of "hydrophobic" /wɔːtɚfɪɚɪk/, or "foreword" /priwɝd/.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by Xing » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 05:20

MoonRightRomantic wrote: Morphemic, my mistake.
Sal's point is still valid. The fact that English dialects/accents have different phonemes have – in many cases – nothing to do with morpho(phonetic) processes. Even if we look at purely monosyllabic words, English dialects/accents have different phonemes.

Now look at the following words, and tell me which ones share the same vowel phonemes:

bad
cat
vast
plaque
dance
palm
mosque
lost
hot
dog
core
law



I think you started this thread with a valid and interesting question – roughly, where do we draw the line between on the one hand an alphabetic writing system with a deep orthography, and on the other hand a purely logographic writing system? However, you have been derailing the thread by making a series of drastic claims, with little or no evidence.

As for spelling reform proposals, these have been discussed extensively, both here and on other places. You may join the thread on spelling reform here on the board if you want to contribute to that discussion. But please, cut down on some of your arrogance if you expect constructive feedback.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by Sumelic » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 06:07

Xing wrote: I think you started this thread with a valid and interesting question – roughly, where do we draw the line between on the one hand an alphabetic writing system with a deep orthography, and on the other hand a purely logographic writing system?
Phrased that way, the question is also easy to answer. No natural language has a purely logographic writing system. There are always phonemic and morphemic elements. Egyptian hieroglyphs included consonant signs that often supplemented the logograms in a redundant fashion. Chinese hanzi are almost always syllabic and often contain phonetic indicators. Japanese kanji are used with the phonemic syllabary systems and Romaji.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by clawgrip » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 06:55

Sumelic wrote:No natural language has a purely logographic writing system. There are always phonemic and morphemic elements.
Tangut sure comes close, though. The vast majority of characters are entirely devoid of phonetic indicators.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by cntrational » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 06:59

globalization and the internet is accelerating language change, by increasing the amount of interactions
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by MoonRightRomantic » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 14:27

Xing wrote:I think you started this thread with a valid and interesting question – roughly, where do we draw the line between on the one hand an alphabetic writing system with a deep orthography, and on the other hand a purely logographic writing system? However, you have been derailing the thread by making a series of drastic claims, with little or no evidence.

As for spelling reform proposals, these have been discussed extensively, both here and on other places. You may join the thread on spelling reform here on the board if you want to contribute to that discussion. But please, cut down on some of your arrogance if you expect constructive feedback.
You are right. I have a hateboner for English spelling. I am sorry for that and I will stop derailing.

Back on topic, I had two proposals for English conscript, not spelling reform. The first is simply writing English with logograms, a la Yingzi or Neoglyphi. The second is compressing all English multigraphs without changing their (often variable) pronunciation in order to disambiguate without resorting to diaresis or similar. For example, replacing every instance of digraph "gh" with yogh.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by clawgrip » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 15:16

Probably the most ideal universal English spelling reform would be to create a script with a letter for every single phonemic vowel, like a letter TRAP, letter BATH, letter PALM, letter LOT, letter CLOTH, letter THOUGHT and so on. This would still have a lot of unnecessary letters for speakers of all varieties of English (for example, those six letters would only represent two distinct phonemes for me: /æ æ ɑː ɑː ɑː ɑː/). But it would perhaps be less complex than contemporary English spelling, since each letter is always pronounced the same way.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by Sumelic » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 16:16

clawgrip wrote:Probably the most ideal universal English spelling reform would be to create a script with a letter for every single phonemic vowel, like a letter TRAP, letter BATH, letter PALM, letter LOT, letter CLOTH, letter THOUGHT and so on. This would still have a lot of unnecessary letters for speakers of all varieties of English (for example, those six letters would only represent two distinct phonemes for me: /æ æ ɑː ɑː ɑː ɑː/). But it would perhaps be less complex than contemporary English spelling, since each letter is always pronounced the same way.
That doesn't work, because there are a bunch of words that vary between TRAP/BATH/PALM and LOT/CLOTH/THOUGHT. I'm not just talking about mergers, I'm talking about different diaphonemes being used by different speakers. You can see some of the uncertain words for TRAP/BATH listed here: http://www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/sound ... ath-split/

The membership of CLOTH is also notoriously variable among different North American accents--I don't have a reference right now, but for example, words like "cog" and "frog" may be in LOT or THOUGHT.

The current system for representing these sounds seems pretty close to optimal to me. Yeah, standard British English speakers have to choose between "a" and "ar" in BATH words, and American English speakers have to choose between "a" and "o" in FATHER words, but I don't think this is a huge burden.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by clawgrip » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 16:39

Neat. I didn't know that. Also, focusing on actual sounds can cause more trouble. Due to intervocalic t-d merger and Canadian raising in my speech, writer and rider are differentiated only by the vowel sound. How would a phonemic writing system deal with this! It would force all speakers of English everywhere to learn two different letters for /ai/. Same for pouter/powder.

I would never want a spelling reform. I don't even like American spellings, but I think they make it clear that the current spelling system is not exactly optimal, since plenty of other reforms could be made. I think this topic has been done to death though.
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Re: Is English a logographic writing system?

Post by MoonRightRomantic » Wed 13 Apr 2016, 17:45

Spelling reform is impossible. Let us speak of real world issues no more.

I read a couple featural abugida for English (e.g. Enganagari, Notae). It is probably the best way to write it, since accent-specific information (voicing, vowels) is easily dropped or added. I think a hybrid logographic and featural abugida script would be a fun exercise.
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