Peter T. Daniels scripsit:

> 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

Unfortunately, although the Mandarin tone accents are nicely iconic with
respect to the standard pronunciation, no such thing can be done for
Cantonese, where it would be necessary to associate the six (tonetic)
tones with arbitrary marks, and there would be constant tension between
wanting to use the same mark that the Mandarin reflex uses and wanting
to be iconic. Still, without doubt the thing could be done.

What's really challenging is to come up with a tonal spelling for
Cantonese. After a lot of work, I finally came up with a satisfying
tonal spelling for Mandarin that doesn't deviate too far from HYPY.
Westerners who knew Chinese characterized it as "readable but ugly" --
people always call spelling reforms "ugly", AFAIK. (Yes, I know about
Gwoyeu Romatzyh, and a more unsystematic and messy torturing of the
conventions of Latin script I can scarcely imagine.)

But going from four tones to six, and having to represent vowel length
and roundness to boot, makes Cantonese a much tougher proposition.
I never came up with anything that wasn't so ugly that I myself couldn't
stand it, never mind anyone else.

> despite the weird Slavicist usage
> that puts hachek on e and breve on i and u).

A sort of hybrid of Czech with East Slavic romanization, eh?

John Cowan cowan@...
To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all. There
are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language
that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful.
--_The Hobbit_