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Title: Proposal to add two Africanist phonetic characters to the UCS

By Organisation Internationale De Normalisation, Source Michael Everson and Peter Constable


In L2/03-190R Peter Constable proposed a number of phonetic characters for addition to the UCS. Many were accepted by the UTC but two were deferred for further study; this document proposes them and provides additional evidence. It contains the proposal summary form. The letters in question are, or were, used to denote labio-alveolar fricatives, IPA [s w] and [z w]. These sounds are distinct from [ñ] U+0282 LATIN SMALL LETTER S WITH HOOK and [ó] U+0290 LATIN SMALL LETTER Z WITH RETROFLEX HOOK, both of which use a standard and productive IPA-sanctioned graph which indicates retroflexion. The “labial ” graph for the two proposed characters probably derives from the tail of an italic z (as in this Times italic z), but to our knowledge it has not been used productively for other labialized consonants. Our research does not indicate whether Doke devised these characters or not; Юшманов 1937 uses both î and ï as a pair of labio-alveolars; the 1949 IPA Handbook refers to î and ï as Doke’s recommendations for labio-alveolars in Shona orthography. Doke’s 1967 treatment clearly distinguishes î and ï as labio-alveolars for general Bantu and for Tsonga; Doke 1967 also shows ñ and ó as retroflexes for Pai. However, Doke 1967 shows ñ and ï for “alveolar labialized ” consonants in Shona. Tucker 1971 gives these same two letters for the same sounds in discussing Doke’

Year: 2004
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