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Subject: Consistency-checking manual transcriptions
Question: For languages with no writing system or no very standardized writing system, are there any tools that support consistency- checking of manually created transcriptions? For example, I was reading a text in a grammar for an endangered language, and the writer had glossed and translated both uwE and iwE as ''2SG/you''; and I wasn't sure if that was intentional or a typo (iwE was much more frequent in the text than uwE). If not, how do linguists working with languages without standardized orthographies achieve transcription consistency, for approximately phonemic transcriptions? Thanks.
Reply: Writing systems develop out of spoken languages to represent speech sounds, ideally. In this sense, orthographies are a kind of transcription, though often inaccurate, as you point out. The International Phonetic Association (IPA) has created a standard phonetic alphabet, the International Phonetic Alphabet (also IPA), in order to represent speech sounds as accurately as possible. Each IPA symbol is meant to correspond one-to-one with a specific speech sound, and vice versa. Their website: Grammars of spoken languages, as I presume the language you mention is, include the grammar of their sounds – their phonology – in standard phonetic transcription. This is so we all know what we are talking about, just like we know what a construct like “2SG/you” means. For consistency across phonetic transcriptions, have a look at a previous Ask-a-Linguist question, here: Madalena
Reply From: Madalena Cruz-Ferreira      click here to access email
Date: 29-Aug-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Consistency-checking manual transcriptions    Nancy J. Frishberg     (29-Aug-2012)
  2. Re: Consistency-checking manual transcriptions    James L Fidelholtz     (29-Aug-2012)
  3. Re: Consistency-checking manual transcriptions    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (29-Aug-2012)

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