Peter T. Daniels scripsit:

> You mean tone letters as in romanized Hmong and other SEA languages?

Indeed. Gwoyeu Romatzyh has this great virtue among its faults --
that it nails down the essentiality of tones where essentiality lives
in the Latin script tradition, namely among the letters. In languages
like the Scandinavian ones, where historic diacritical marks have merged
psychologically with their original bases, this is expressed by saying
that new letters have been created: in Swedish, we are told, รค is a
letter, whereas in German it is still just an a that has been changed.

Thus I may not be able to remember just what the tones of the syllables
"guo yeu luo maa tzyh" are without looking them up, but because I can
remember the spellings, it *is* possible to reliably reconstruct the tones
from them. Neither tone digits nor tone diacritics (and the diacritics
are superior if only for their iconicity) have this fundamental property
of non-optionality.

> I think Smalley or someone in one of his edited volumes says the speakers
> like tone letters, because they can be typed easily and they don't look
> alien.

Wherein they are wise.

John Cowan jcowan@...
Most languages are dramatically underdescribed, and at least one is
dramatically overdescribed. Still other languages are simultaneously
overdescribed and underdescribed. Welsh pertains to the third category.
--Alan King