--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, Marco Cimarosti <marco.cimarosti@...>
> suzmccarth wrote:
> > > > > >> - there are only phonological and morphological
> > > > > >> elements and a syllabic/phonemic continuum.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > I cannot see any "morphological elements" in English
> > spelling (apart
> > > > > > perhaps
> > > > > > word spacing and capital letters -- but these elements
> > certainly
> > > > > > not
> > > > > > unique to English).
> >
> > What is meant by the term morphophonemic?
> You ask me? I think this is the first time ever I see this term!
> (I didn't even imagine that an English word containing the
sequence "phopho"
> could exist... :-)

- morpho-phonemic, a term usually used in studies of childrens'
ability to transfer literacy skills from one language to another in
bilingual education programs. So it is easier to transfer skills
from Tagalog to Spanish, more phonemic, than from Tagalog to
English, morphophonemic. I never once thought that this term would
be controversial. I never have heard any controversy about it
before. It is a useful term for educators. It is only a matter of
degree, some languages have spelling patterns that are more
morphophonemic than others. However, in the classroom, we provide a
phonetic spellcheck and homophone checker on our computers. It
looks a little like the Chinese Pinyin IME. It is a floating toolbar
that offers options for different spellings according to meaning, a
dictionary can be accessed throught this tool. There are often
several homophones in any simple English sentence. No, English is
not unique, just a little more extreme.
> > Does it not refer to English? - site/sight to distinguish
> > homophones or no/know.
> OK, but the expression you used was "morphological *elements*",
which made
> me think to elements of writing (i.e. signs) whose precise
function is
> making morphological distinctions, as could be
> I wouldn't say that the *main* function of English letters "K"
and "W" is
> making morphological distinctions, although that is casually what
they do in
> the "no" vs. "know" pair.
> > I cannot agree that this is only historic because teens instant
> > messaging now use no/noe to disambiguate, a new non-historic
> > morphemic differentiation.
> OK, but I still don't see how distinguishing homophones would be
unique to
> English spelling, or how this would qualify English spelling as
> typologically different from the spelling of any other western
> language.
> My own language, Italian, uses the same two devices (etymologic
> and deliberate exception from the orthographic rules) to exactly
the same
> purpose (distinguishing homophones). E.g., "hanno" = '(they) have'
> spelled with an unpronounced etymologic "h" just to distinguish it
from the
> homophone "anno" = 'year'; "dà" = '(he) gives' is spelled with an
> mark (which is of course useless on a monosyllabic word) just to
> it from "da" = 'from'. And you would find similar thing in the
spelling of
> Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch and, of course, French.
> What makes English spelling a little bit more intricate that those
> continental western Europe is that the English lexicon has an
amount of
> graphically unadapted loanwords from another language (French)
which is
> unparalleled in other European languages and, what is more
important, the
> English language underwent, in relatively recent times, a phonetic
> earthquake (the so-called Great Vowel Shift) which is probably
unparallel in
> the recent linguistic history of the whole word.

Yes, I would never say other European languages don't have
morphophonemic spelling patterns. It is just more obvious in
> > What about the bound morpheme -ed used
> > for /t/ or /@d/ or /d/. Isn't that a set spelling to represent
> > tense. How was the term quasi-logographic intended earlier?
> Again, I don't see anything so unique to English...

No, not unique to English but a term educators se when talking about
the English written language.

I thought that maybe Peter Daniels meant 'morphophonemic' when he
said 'quasi-logographic'about English. Now I doubt I will ever know
what he meant, because I don't know what he means by logographic.
Why say that Chinese characters correspond to words (logographic)
when they don't? Why say morphemes are words when they aren't.
Morphemes break down into two classes, roots and sffixes, bound and
free morphemes. Bound morphemes are still morphemes, they are never
words. I can't make any sense of why the term logographic is being
used for Chinese. At least ideographic has a history to it.
Actually the former director of the Hong Kong Institute of
Education, who I am visiting next week, told me that Chinese
children must learn the sound-symbol relationship for characters
first. (In China, also phetic representation first) I suppose this
may vary, I will ask around. For now I would say the Chinese system
is syllabic, morpo-syllabic.
> E.g., the Italian ending for the 1st person plural present
indicative is
> always spelled "-iamo" regardless that, after certain final
consonants in
> the verb stem, the "i" is unpronounced (e.g., "sogniamo" = 'we
dream' is
> pronounced /so'Namo/, not */so'Njamo/ and, consequently, it is
> misspelled as "sognamo").
> > (Of course, I could not observe those who have Cherokee as their
> > first language of literacy. However, Tamil and Cree are called
> > syllabaries by the French. Maybe that term is descriptive.)

> Sorry, I can't see the link between what Tamil and Cree are called
by the
> French and what you or anybody else wrote about English spelling.

No, but sometimes crossing languages, terms shift in use, I guess in
this case the term seems rather irrelevant for now. I was thinking
of something at the time but too remote to follow up now.