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Koran vs Qur’an
Posted: 13 July 2008 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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On the other hand, he seems quite keen that English-language children should master the nuance between a “hard K” in Arab (transliterated as a Q) and a “soft K” (transliterated as a K), as well as learn to use a hamza to express a glottal stops.

I don’t think he said or implied any such thing. Linguists and those who develop and advocate for conventions for transliterating languages should master nuances like these. But all school children need to be taught is how to spell the word, and should be taught that there are often more than one acceptable spellings for any given word. Sure, English language spelling is pretty haphazard, but that’s an entirely different can of worms.

Actually Qur’an would be a great teaching point. A good teacher would explain what a glottal stop is (there are many examples of glottal stops in various English dialects, although we rarely use an orthographic symbol to denote them in fully assimilated words) and that it is represented by an apostrophe. But there is still no need to teach kids the nuances of transliteration. All they need to know is the product.

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Posted: 14 July 2008 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Pavlos, a good example of a glottal stop you will know is “uh-oh”.
How about the spelling of the country Qatar? “Qatar (Arabic: قطر ‎; IPA: [ˈqɑtˁɑr],[1] local pronunciation: giṭar),[2] officially the State of Qatar (Arabic: دولة قطر transliterated as Dawlat Qatar)” says wikipedia.

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Posted: 14 July 2008 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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venomousbede - 14 July 2008 07:15 AM

Pavlos, a good example of a glottal stop you will know is “uh-oh”.
How about the spelling of the country Qatar? “Qatar (Arabic: قطر ‎; IPA: [ˈqɑtˁɑr],[1] local pronunciation: giṭar),[2] officially the State of Qatar (Arabic: دولة قطر transliterated as Dawlat Qatar)” says wikipedia.

How about the name of Libya’s leader? I have seen so many variations over the years, including Gaddafi, Khaddafi, Qaddafi etc etc.  For an near-compleat list, check out http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_264b.html.

IMHO, there is an interesting parallel in the Hanyu Pinyin transliterations of Mandarin to English and the transliteration of some Arab words (including Qur’an) to English: both approaches assign to the Latin alphabet sounds familiar to the native speakers, but not so familiar to English speakers.

For example, the letter “X” as per Hanyu Pinyin is pronounced approximately as sh, and “Q” as ch. Take the name Xe for example. One not familiar with Hanyu Pinyin may accidentally pronounce it with an x-sound in English. I wonder if the older transliteration however was Hsieh, if read by an English speaker would more closely approximate the Mandarin pronounciation? I suppose it would. Bear in perspective that Hanyu Pinyin was originally devised as a tool to create a phonetic alternative to ideograms for Chinese students. For Hanyu Pinyin to work in English, people need to be educated to recognize the correct sounds. A challenging prospect, in view of how many still pronounce nuclear.

Now, take transliterations from Arab. As noted previously, a ”Q” is used to transliterate a “harsh K” whereas a “K” is used to transliterate a “soft K”. The most frequently used English dialects have no hard or soft K, so to an English speaker the Q in Quran would add little if any no phonetic value vis-a-vis the K in Koran. But the Q would make a great difference to an Arab speaker reading the word in English - maybe of the magnitude of car vs care. It would be interesting to run an empirical study whereby randomly selected English speakers were asked to read the words Quran and Koran, and to see which group would pronounce the word in a way that better approximates the Arab pronounciation. I wonder how frequently the word Quran would be mispronounced Qwuran.

I dare not speculate how a Chinese person not familiar with Arab-English transliteration norms may pronounce Qu’ran. Hold the shrapnel, this was a joke :-)

[ Edited: 14 July 2008 09:13 AM by Pavlos ]
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Posted: 14 July 2008 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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How about the spelling of the country Qatar? “Qatar (Arabic: قطر ‎; IPA: [ˈqɑtˁɑr],

No, Qatar does not contain a glottal stop; it has a velarized (”emphatic” or “heavy") t, which for some reason is written with the glottal-stop symbol in at least some versions of IPA (see, for example, this Wikipedia article and its alphabet chart).

Take the name Xe for example. One not familiar with Hanyu Pinyin may accidentally pronounce it with an x-sound in English. I wonder if the older transliteration however was Hsieh, if read by an English speaker would more closely approximate the Mandarin pronounciation?

You mean the name Xie; yes, an English speaker is likely to do better with the older transliteration, and I personally think they could have done a better job when they crated pinyin, but bear in mind it’s intended primarily for Chinese speakers, and the values of letters like x and q in various foreign languages are fairly irrelevant.  And of course as English speakers get used to seeing and hearing Chinese names, they’ll learn the values of the letters, just as they know that ch in German is not pronounced as it is in English.

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Posted: 14 July 2008 08:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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languagehat - 14 July 2008 01:49 PM

... and I personally think they could have done a better job when they created pinyin, but bear in mind it’s intended primarily for Chinese speakers ...

The pinyin variation recently introduced by the ROC was designed with this in mind. However, given the critical mass of the mainland PRC , it is highly unlikely it will have any significant influence on the consensus pinyin standard.

Being a sucker for parallel universes, I cant help but think of the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet. It took the Greek alphabet as starting point and introduced new letters to seamlessly accomodate for sounds specific to slavic languages. I can think of the German ß, but are there other cases of languages employing the latin alphabet that have also done so?

[ Edited: 14 July 2008 08:19 PM by Pavlos ]
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Posted: 14 July 2008 08:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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I can think of the German ß, but are there other cases of languages employing the latin alphabet that have also done so?

If you’re suggesting that the German ß is a Greek beta, you are mistaken.  It’s a ligature of the old-fashioned “long” or medial s (ſ) and the more familiar s, formerly used only terminally.

ſ + s = ß

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Posted: 14 July 2008 08:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Dr. Techie - 14 July 2008 08:27 PM

I can think of the German ß, but are there other cases of languages employing the latin alphabet that have also done so?

If you’re suggesting that the German ß is a Greek beta, you are mistaken.  It’s a ligature of the old-fashioned “long” or medial s (ſ) and the more familiar s, formerly used only terminally.

ſ + s = ß

Why would you think I was? ß is an altogether different letter with no phonetic affinity to β. My question is quite unambiguous : are there languages that use the latin alphabet as a base but have introduced new letters to accomodate local sounds?

[ Edited: 14 July 2008 08:36 PM by Pavlos ]
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Posted: 14 July 2008 08:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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The previous reference to the Greek alphabet and the creation of additional letters for the Cyrillic alphabet confused me.  The creation of the scharfes s is really quite different from that, and it was not created or introduced to represent a novel sound.  It’s just a double s written as a ligature, and using an archaic form of the first s.

Now that I understand your question: early English, even after adopting the Latin alphabet, had the ash, thorn, edh, yogh, and wynn.  I think the edh and thorn are still used in Icelandic. The yogh may have developed from another such letter, the “insular g”, borrowed from Irish.

The W, though now a standard part of the “Roman” alphabet, was created (as a ligature of two U’s or V’s (which were then the same letter)) to represent a sound in English that did not occur in Latin.  One could also regard the differentiation of the U from V, and J from I, as creation of new letters, although this is obviously different in some respects from the other cases.

[ Edited: 14 July 2008 09:05 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 14 July 2008 10:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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Dr. Techie - 14 July 2008 08:42 PM

The previous reference to the Greek alphabet and the creation of additional letters for the Cyrillic alphabet confused me.

If I am guilty of “intentionally spreading disinformation,” as you noted in another post, then you are certainly suspect of assuming a priori that all my posts have some sort of visceral axiomatic arrière-pensée. Hence, your confused interpretation of my question. The etymology of the word prejudice comes to mind.

By the way, thanks for the interesting feedback you provided to my question (following, of course, my clarification that I am effectively not an obsessive and chauvinistic Greek with the IQ of an amoeba).

[ Edited: 14 July 2008 11:20 PM by Pavlos ]
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Posted: 15 July 2008 12:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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my clarification


It is often rewarding to promulgate subjective views of oneself.
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Posted: 15 July 2008 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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Astal, despite my fencing with languagehat and Dr Techie, I appreciate the fact that both have provided compelling facts and arguments which have made this thread interesting, to say the least. Despite our differences, they have my respect :)

I notice on the other hand that all your posts in this thread are limited to questioning my intentions or being ironic towards me. We are both relatively junior members in this forum, so I suggest we both try to contribute facts as best we can rather than to interject below-the-belt comments without contibuting to the subject matter of a given thread.

[ Edited: 15 July 2008 08:42 AM by Pavlos ]
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Posted: 15 July 2008 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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ſ + s

The German ß (scharfes S or Esszett) is a ligature of a long s and a z, ſz.

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Posted: 15 July 2008 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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The origin is debated; some sources say a ligature of the long and round (medial and terminal) s, some say medial s and z (hence the other name, esszett), some say both, some say the second element was an s written like a z.  Regardless of its origin, it represents two s’s, not an s and a z, and so for orthographic purposes is regarded as a ligature of two s’s.

edit: typo

[ Edited: 15 July 2008 08:13 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 15 July 2008 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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I suggest we both try to contribute facts as best we can

Post number 5, then:
This is precisely my point, which you seem incapable of appreciating or unwilling to do.

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Posted: 15 July 2008 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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astal - 15 July 2008 09:30 AM

I suggest we both try to contribute facts as best we can

Post number 5, then:
This is precisely my point, which you seem incapable of appreciating or unwilling to do.

180px-Graham_Chapman_Colonel.jpg

I would like to interrupt this thread as it has become rather silly!

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