[Spellyans] Front unrounded vowels, was: The quantity system

Owen Cook owen.e.cook at gmail.com
Tue Jun 24 19:32:59 IST 2008

2008/6/24 Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com> rug scrifa:
> Actually, I think I've caught you here. ;-)
> Consider German and its dialects. <ö> is (in
> practice if not in theory) an umbrella graph for
> /ø/~/e/ (schön [Sø:n]~[Se:n]) and <ü> is an
> umbrella graph for /y/~/i/ (grün
> /gry:n]~[gri:n]). So what we propose here is that
> <ÿ> and <ë> are both umbrella graphs for
> [i:]~[e:].

It's a clever trick, but I'm not taken in! ;-) The real reason for the
diaeresis is simply that we don't want to discrimate against Mac
users. While a noble goal in itself, this is not worth the vexation of
using the wrong diacritic when a better alternative exists. The words
we're talking about all have <ë> or <ÿ> in a stressed syllable anyway
-- no problem there, were we to use the acute. Furthermore, anybody
with exposure to Irish will know the acute as a length marker already.
<é> is familiar to most of us from French as a higher variety of <e>
(potentially convenient for those who want to continue the fiction of
'aspirational' /I:/), and was used this way in Breton (in the
Orthographie universitaire). Long, stressed, alternating with a higher
variant -- our dédh and prés words are all of these things. On hiatus,
umlaut, centralized -- dëdh and prës are none of these. And if a
diaeresis is arguably unobtrusive, an acute is certainly more so by
virtue of being more simply formed.


> In my judgement the acute accent would be
> interpreted as a stress mark by most readers. And
> I think the two little dots are really not very
> obtrusive. But the choice here is one of
> character set and many many many fonts: While
> Windows has both y-acute and y-diaeresis, the
> classic Mac OS has only y-diaeresis.
> --
> Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com
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