--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "suzmccarth" <suzmccarth@...> wrote:
> --- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, "Richard Wordingham"
> <richard.wordingham@...> wrote:
> > Given all these issues, I wonder whether it does make sense to
> > of Thai as an alphasyllabary.

> Is Thai taught as a syllabary - with a syllable chart? This may
> sound a bit mechanistic, but in the scripts that I am thinking of -

> Cree, Tamil, Hangul, Amharic, the script is usually taught as a
> syllabary.

Sproat finds it relevant that these scripts are taught as
syllabaries and have the syllable as their organizing principle.

"Indic scripts are particularly interesting in this regard sincethey
are clearly segmental in their abstract design, and yet the
(orthographic) syllable plays an important role; hence the commonly
used term alphasyllabary (Bright, 1996a). More importantly, perhaps,
they are frequently taught as syllabaries (Karanth, 2003)14
something that would surely affect literate speakers' conscious
phonological awareness.

The strongest position on this issue is perhaps the one taken by
Faber(Faber, 1992). Faber explicitly argues that phonemic
segmentation is an epiphenomenon due to alphabetic writing (page
111): investigations of language use suggest that many
speakers do not divide words into phonological segments
unless they have received explicit instruction in such segmentation
comparable to that involved in teaching an alphabetic
writing system."

However, there are other considerations aside from the pedagogical.

Another important factor is how people classify their own system.
Indic scripts are generally called aksharas, While this may have
originally had a meaning like 'a' to 'z' or 'a' to 'ksha', it is
now generally accepted that an akshara is a syllable. So this is
the feature that defines the script type for its users.

The akshara connotes wholeness I believe. Since the syllable can be
pronounced, it can be matched up to the visible syllable.
Representation of speech by the visible syllable is perceived to be
less remote than representation of speech by an alphabetic
sequence. The relationship is between the smallest audible unit of
speech which can be produced in isolation and the symbol which
represents it.

In this case the cultural understanding of the relationship between
speech and writing is altered. FOr the Cree they often talked about
the syllabic script as "the language for the Indian people the same
as whites have to learn their language." There is a sense of
semantic identity between script and language. Bennett and Berry