Date: Thu, 24 Feb 1994 10:38:57 -0500 From: "William A. Kretzschmar, Jr." Subject: Re: Phonetic/Phonemic E-Mail Alphabet Here's a long answer to a simple question. There is no standard yet, but the idea being floated by the Association for Computing in the Humanities, for phonetic symbols and many other things besides, is SGML, short for Standard Generalized Markup Language. SGML encoded texts not only mark special symbols and diacritics, but also different font choices, beginnings and ends of documents and document subunits (paragraphs, but also other units). Symbols, or characters with diacritics, are known as "entities". They are put into a text using only the regular alphanumeric characters (roughly those on the keyboard, that always show up in e-mail) plus an "opener delimiter" and a "closer delimiter". Thus, an e with an acute accent would be represented as é where the ampersand is the opener and the semicolon is the closer (it is permissible to omit the closer before a space or punctuation mark). There is a whole list of names for IPA symbols that was prepared as part of the TEI (text encoding initiative). In practice, people often use the opener and a short description of their own devising, such as &aesc for the digraph found in Old English, or &barsmallcapI for the most frequent sound in American English, or &hookedn for the velar nasal phoneme. Personally I am not in favor of SGML or TEI. Their net effect is greatly to increase file size wherever there are many "entities" in use. They seem offer complex coding systems that require "filter" software before anyone can reasonably be expected to read a text so prepared---this when the real problem is the ancient limitation in transmission standards to 7-bit units, which makes the keyboard alphanumerics all that can be transmitted. An alternative is something like UNICODE, a replacement for ASCII, which removes the 7-bit limitation, but would also require hardware updates. I understand that IBM and most of the other big companies have signed on to UNICODE for the eventual standard. As a short term solution for light use of special symbols, as on e-mail, use of ampersand plus description seems a reasonable practice. ****************************************************************************** Bill Kretzschmar Phone: 706-542-2246 Dept. of English FAX: 706-542-2181 University of Georgia Internet: billk[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Athens, GA 30602-6205 Bitnet: wakjengl[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uga