On 11/10/2001 05:05:22 PM Lars Marius Garshol wrote:

>* Peter T. Daniels
>| What's a "topic map engine"?
>A piece of software that understands how to process topic maps.
>Topic maps are a way of organizing information. It's what was used to
>make this site: <URL: http://www.ontopia.net/i18n/index.jsp >.

Lars, I just took a poke there (haven't yet had a chance to give it an in
depth look) and noticed that you're counting the Tai Lü script as an
abugida. I don't think I agree (whether using my own idea of what abugida
should mean or Peter D's original definition). I also wouldn't call it an
alphasyllabary (as in Bright's usage). I'm inclined to say it really is
alphabetic. Even though there are still some vowels written before the
syllable-initial consonant, many of the trademark behaviours of Brahmic
scripts were removed when the reform took place that derived this script
from its precessessor, Lanna. There are no vowels not written on the
baseline, and for the most part the only conjunct forms are the high-class
sononants formed in combination with leading-h; this in contrast to Lanna
in which consonants are quite productively written below preceding
consonants -- including cases of a syllable-initial consonant being
written below the code of the previous syllable. Dead consonants have a
special form, but these are syllable-final only; the only cluster, and the
only consonant that truly conjoins, is w.

In most respects, I am inclined to say that Tai Lue has lost the Brahmic
characteristics of Lanna and has become quite close to typical alphabetic
scripts. It has a couple of vowels that are written out of sequence, but
English has discontiguous vowel representations (long vowels with final
e); it has distinct syllable-final forms, but so does Greek; it has a
subjoined w, but we know that various latin consonants evolved into

Also, you gave a link to http://www.omniglot.com/writing/tailue.htm. That
page has some factual errors (I'm copying the author of that page in case
he's not on this list with hope that he'll have opportunity to make

- The New Tai Lue script is descended from Lanna script. That, in turn, is
descended from Mon, and is a sibling to Burmese. The relationship to Thai
and Lao is more distanct, those being more closely connected to Khmer.

- I'll have to check to make sure, but I'm pretty sure that consonants are
never pronounced with an inherent vowel.

- Vowels do not join with consonants to create complex symbols.

- High consonants and low consonants are not distinguished on the basis or
word-initial vs non-word-initial. They correspond to distinct tone
classes, just as in Thai or Lao.

- Except for the high class sonorants (which I think at this stage could
simply be regarded as distinct characters -- they certainly aren't
phonological clusters) and the diacritic w, there are no cluster
ligatures. There aren't any true ligatures, in the typographic sense.

- The languages it is used to write are to my knowledge only one: Tai Lü.
It is not variously known as Tai Yuan or Lanna Thai. It is spoken by a
small number in Thailand and possibly Burma and Laos, but the 6.5 million
in Thailand would have to be a reference to Northern (Lanna) Thai
speakers. The New Tai Lue script is not and has never been used outside of

- quoting:

The name 'Xishuangbanna' derives from the local name for the area 'Hsip hsong pan na' which means 'twelve thousand rice fields'.

The translation is one possible translation, though in Thai (I'd suspect
something similar in other Tai languages) 12,000 is "mɯːn˧ sɔːŋ˨˧ pʰan˧". The meaning of "sip song" is definitely 12, but I don't know if it is
agreed that "pan" is meaning "thousand" here rather than being a single
morpheme with "panna". As I recall, I never heard the p aspirated, but it
should be if it means "thousand". Barring any undisputed translation, this
is OK.

But the transliteration definitely is not. Romanisation of Tai scripts
should never have "hs"; "hn" or "h" and some other sononrant maybe, but
not with "s".

- In the consonant chart, Simon apparently took names from the postscript
glyph names used in the font (and which were shown in the documentation).
These may not be the best way to describe the characters; in particular,
the first high/low pair "qa" actually represent glottal stop. The
postscript names for the glyphs had to have alphabetic ASCII characters,
so a Unicode glottal (U+0294) wasn't an option.

- The character "lae"shouldn't really be counted among the consonants.
It's an abbreviation character, standing for the word "lae" meaning 'and'.
Similarly, "laew" is an abbreviation character for "laew", which means
"already". Strictly speaking, they would both have to be counted as low
class because of the tones on those words, but it really doesn't make a
lot of sense to treat them like consonant characters.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <peter_constable@...>