Talk:Americanist phonetic notation

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Euro-American?[edit]

the original phrasing of the article was "originally developed by European and Euro-American anthropologists and language scientists" which I changed to "originally developed by European and American anthopologists and language scientists". While the original is technically true, American academia at the time was a province almost exculively of people of European descent, did anthropology and language science stand out in their exclusion of minorities? More so than chemistry or medicine or philosophy? To specify Euro-Americans seems to imply they did. If this is in fact true, feel free to change the article back. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.135.193.109 (talk) 06:59, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Americanist should not redirect here. The word means ‘a linguist working in the field of the indigenous languages of the Americas’; there should be an article describing the field, perhaps under American languages or Americanist linguisics, and Americanist should redirect there. 89.49.97.70 21:55, 27 September 2007 (UTC)


Nice work! - Mustafaa 21:15, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I am happy that you like. no telling when it will be finished though... nice day to you — ishwar  (SPEAK) 21:47, 2005 Jun 10 (UTC)

Character Harmony[edit]

"Unlike the IPA, Americanist phonetic notation does not require a strict harmony among character styles: letters from the Greek and Roman alphabets are used side-by-side."

I'm not quite sure what's meant by this -- surely "GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA", "GREEK SMALL LETTER THETA", and "GREEK SMALL LETTER CHI" are in the IPA along with "LATIN SMALL LETTER X"? --CRGreathouse 19:23, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

The IPA uses variants of Greek letters, where possible, that fit with Latin better. IPA uses ɸ and ɣ, Americanist uses φ and γ. While in some phonetic transcriptions (I don't know about Americanist) you might see the ϑ variant of theta, it's always θ in IPA. --Ptcamn 20:10, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
I can't imagine a Greek letter looking more out-of-place in Latin text than a beta, but it's used in the IPA symbols. Still, I see your point. Perhaps it would be best to explain some of this in the article? --CRGreathouse 22:23, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Although Unicode doesn't provide separate symbols for Greek beta and IPA beta, if you look in phonetic publications, IPA beta really does look rather different, more like a Latin letter. It looks pretty much like ß with a longer left leg, which (in serif fonts) has a serif at the bottom and which is straight up-and-down. A Greek beta doesn't have a serif and is slightly tilted to the right. Angr (tc) 07:10, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Ah. In that case I plead ignorance, and thank you for your patience in dealing with me. I'm glad I posted here instead of editing the article. --CRGreathouse 08:20, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
hi. See also the following from the IPA's 1949 Principles (the earlier handbook):
" (c) The non-roman letters of the International Phonetic Alphabet have been designed as far as possible to harmonise well with the roman letters. The Association does not recognise makeshift letters ; it recognises only letters which have been carefully cut so as to be harmony with the other letters. For instance, the Greek letters included in the International Alphabet are cut in roman adaptations. Thus, since the ordinary shape of the Greek letter β does not harmonize with roman type, in the International Phonetic Alphabet it is given the form β. And of the two form of Greek theta, θ and ϑ, it has been necessary to choose the first (in vertical form), since the second cannot be made to harmonize with roman letters. " (pp. 1-2)
The cited Greek forms above are in the usual slanted style, but Unicode does not provide separate symbols, so I cant reproduce the original precisely here. peace – ishwar  (speak) 16:01, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
G'day. Is there any reason why Unicode encodes a Latin/IPA form of some letters, like gamma and phi and epsilon, but not others, uniting them with the Greek characters? I initially assumed it was because the IPA beta had exactly the same form as a Greek one (not having much familiarity with the latter), but as Angr and the 1949 Principles points out, the glyphs are quite different. Do they have some justification, or do we just guess? —Felix the Cassowary 11:01, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
There's a discussion here, although it doesn't exactly clear up the issue entirely IMO (two serifs beat one? what kind of logic is that?). --Ptcamn 11:17, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Font specification in the tables[edit]

The body of the tables shows up in Gentium font in my browser (Safari), and compared to the sans-serif text in Wikipedia it looks small and crabbed, and out of place. Is it not possible to just add class="IPA" or class="Unicode" attribute to the table for this to work in Windows Explorer, and let all the other browsers just do their thing? I'll give that a try; I'm sure someone will let us know if it doesn't work. Michael Z. 2006-10-24 01:51 Z

Anecdote moved from article[edit]

I was a student of Carl Voegelin's from 1962 to 1975. I never heard him speak of Sapir's attitude, but in the field methods classes he gave us his symbols with the s-wedge and the c-wedge (hachek). I used these in transcribing Mohave at the Arixona field station and in working with Shawnee (my dissertation language). Fred Householder, a classicist, used the same symbols in the Linguistics Department as did the other linguists. I never heard anything disparaging about the IPA nor did I hear anything about the Speech Departments in classes by our professors or by the many linguists who spoke at the Ethnolinguistic Seminar on Monday nights and chatted with us at the Voegelins' home at the wine parties afterwards. I think the tradition began with the work of linguists and anthropologists working out of the Bureau of Indian Affairs where there was, prior to Bloomfield's time (he was a Germanticist), a standardized orthography variations of which were used from the mid-1800s onward by Lewis Henry Morgan and others, and in the 20th century by Frank Speck,Lowie, etc. Our concern was always how to put the symbols on typewriters by making dead keys (for diacritics), adding diacritics for seldom used symbols, and the like. Voegelin once mentioned that he and Mary Haas invented the idea of filing off the period under the question mark to make a glottal stop (which of course looks like the IPA symbol). So I think it is an anthropological and linguistic tradition in America rather than any inherent combat with the IPA. Noel Schutz

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by 61.227.113.120 (talkcontribs) 20:36, 10 February 2007.

Odden's "APA symbols guide"[edit]

I might be wrong, but I think the "APA symbols guide" that's included in the external links section is an Africanist alphabet, not an Americanist one. See for example the use of "c" for a palatal stop rather than an affricate, the absence of crossed lambda for "tl", and the presence of click symbols. And the fact that it's David Odden's website.

If that link was intended to show an Americanist alphabet, it should probably be removed. If its inclusion was intentional, then we need to at least call it an Africanist symbol guide to avoid confusion from people who will (quite naturally) think that a link to an APA guide on this page must mean an Americanist alphabet. Jiashudiwanjin (talk) 16:39, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Why is it correct to tag non-IPA symbols as IPA?[edit]

Ish ishwar reverted an edit for me for no reason. I untagged symbols which are not used the same way in IPA from the article. (They had other symbols in IPA) They were tagged by {{IPA}}, which made them have that title displayed (Representation in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)) if the cursor stopped on them. --Mahmudmasri (talk) 01:02, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

I have sent him a message on his talk page and he ignored it. I'll restore my edit if he continued to ignore me, because he didn't even seem to have read my edit summary nor seen what I changed. --Mahmudmasri (talk) 05:56, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

It is silly to do because the code does not suggest that the symbols within it has to be IPA it only tells the browser how to choose a character set. That character set is called IPA but contains both IPA and non IPA symbols. -- 21:26, 5 July 2014‎ User:Maunus

Abercrombie quote[edit]

The long quote contains much which seems to be just one person's individual opinions. Many followers of "Americanist" traditions would claim that symbols like "š" have the advantage of being compositional (i.e. their sound value can be predicted from knowing the sound-value of the base letter plus the nature of the phonetic modification expressed by the diacritic symbol), while "ʃ" is just an arbitrarily unanalyzable symbol (and too many arbitrarily unanalyzable symbols become a burden on the memory)... AnonMoos (talk) 18:08, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

Origin and relationship with UPA[edit]

It would be nice to learn more about the origin and early history of the system in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Typical of the APA is the use of characters derived from Latin alphabets adapted to Slavic languages, especially Czech (š, č, ž), but also Polish (ś, ć, ł), and in ways which is identical with or at least closely approximates their use there (also of some simple characters such as c). I've wondered for some time now if there is a connection with the Prague School or an older scholarly tradition in the region, or with the transcription of Cyrillic into Latin, which naturally employed characters borrowed from Czech and Polish; officially in the case of Serbian and Belorussian, unofficially in the case of Russian and Bulgarian. APA could have (at least partly) grown organically out of attempts to convert into Latin characters Cyrillic-based transcriptions of Uralic, Caucasian, Altaic, Siberian, North American, and also Semitic and Indo-Iranian languages, first unofficially for the purposes of scholars from the West, and later also officially in the creation of Latin-based orthographies for the languages of the Soviet Union in the Latinisation campaign of the 1920s and 1930s. (Latin-based orthographies for especially African languages, interestingly, are often rather IPA-influenced, apparently because they are more recent creations.) I have the idea that precursors of the notation arose at the German-Russian interface and were exported by scholars (often schooled in German-speaking universities of Central Europe) who immigrated into the US.

Perhaps you could say that APA has its origin in German-speaking Europe, while IPA originated in England at the same time – in the late 19th century. APA is therefore closely connected with the philological tradition, whose data-based approach has been carried over into West Coast linguistics with its descriptive focus, while IPA is more closely associated with the East Coast, looking to England for influence rather than Central Europe. Yeah, I know, linguistics is like hip-hop ... it's a divide that even recalls US politics: empiricism-based vs. theory-based, or reality/fact-based vs. faith-based linguistics if you will; though to be fair, Chomsky is everything but a GOP sympathiser and speech science, like most of applied/experimental linguistics probably, despite a historical connection with theoretical/generative linguistics departments at least in Germany, does not just pretend to be science-y, even if it may well be true that they traditionally tend towards a prescriptive, or perhaps rather standard-language-oriented, approach.

The connections are suggestive to me, but I'm unsure how close this is to the truth. Anyone know the history in more detail?

A related issue, the relationship between the APA and the UPA, should be made explicit. The article currently claims that the APA is used for Uralic languages although there is the Uralic phonetic alphabet, which is similar but considered distinct and also has its own article. Perhaps you could claim, along the lines of what I have just written, that APA and UPA only really became distinct entities in the course of the 20th century, and previously they simply were part of a single pool (at least in the minds of academics). --Florian Blaschke (talk) 00:18, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

If there was any Central Europe - "Americanist" connection, it was presumably mediated by Franz Boas and Edward Sapir, but it was probably motivated more by a desire for typewriter / printing practicality than any conscious decision to faithfully reflect Slavic orthographies... AnonMoos (talk) 14:35, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
True. I just thought about this as well reading the section above titled "Anecdote moved from article". Unlike many commonly used IPA symbols, most commonly used APA symbols are also used in relatively common written languages such as Czech and Polish (as mentioned above), meaning they're easier to handle especially (but not only) when using typewriters (even if it means you have to add the diacritics manually), or for typesetters. Of course, since the introduction of Unicode, this problem has gradually diminished. Still, entering IPA on a computer is often still quite cumbersome, more so even than entering characters with diacritics as in Czech, Polish etc. Personally, I'm used to both and can see the merits and appeal of APA as well as IPA. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:56, 5 July 2014 (UTC)