Nicholas Bodley wrote:
> Here goes the dilettante again...
> I know just enough to confuse matters. ☺
> I'm reasonably sure that modern Vietnamese, with its latin alphabetic
> base and delightful diacritics represents (or can represent) VN speech
> fairly closely, tones and all.
> Considering that VN is a tonal language, what I'm wondering is whether
> its writing system could be adapted fairly simply to represent, say,
> Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese). (Perhaps Cantonese would be more of a
> problem, having (I think) more tones than Vietnamese.)
> I'm aware that Vietnam was under the big thumb of China for almost a
> millennium, and the topic has political overtones.
> Nevertheless, existing schemes for romanization of Chinese (at least)
> seem to offer sufficient detail to be completely practical, although
> numeric representatin of tones seems arbitrary. Nevertheless, only
> four tones is not many!

In pinyin, the four tones are indicated by the four accents macron,
acute, hachek, and grave respectively. If you wanted to transliterate
Cantonese with a similar system, there are certainly another three or
four familiar accent-marks that you could employ -- umlaut, circumflex,
dot, for instance (breve and hachek are too easy to confuse for both of
them to be used in the same system -- despite the weird Slavicist usage
that puts hachek on e and breve on i and u).
Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...