Peter T. Daniels wrote:

> i18n@... wrote:
> >
> > kana does in fact have the same "vocal length" quality as the other
> called "mora"

Thanks - don't know why I spaced on that word....

> > entries, even though it is an exception to the CV rule of the kana table
> > organization.
> >
> > So, is it safe to say that the writing system (in Japanese at least) is
> > subordinate to the spoken language?
> Where is it not?

That was my there anywhere?

> > I mean, given that either the spoken can/could have changed to allow the
> > writing system to be exception free, or the writing system can reflect
> > the spoken sounds at the cost of having exceptions in the CV table
> > layout, what can we infer from the historical choices/evolution in this
> > matter? Does it vary by language/writing system pairs?
> ? Since the vast majority of humans have never been literate, it would
> be quite difficult for a writing system to have any but the slightest
> effect on its language.

Uh, that doesn't make sense on me. I don't see where the conclusion
follows form the condition.

For example, that Japanese is spoken in a manner that each syllable is
distinct and of the same length, it seems likely that a writing system
would evolve that reflects that. Other systems are possible of course,
and Japanese sure has tried to paste several of them on top of the
syllabic systems, but still - why wouldn't a language's writing system -
either designed or evolved, take into account what the speakers notice
as distinct and important about how they perceive their language, such
as a limited number of syllables?

Other languages may need to account for tonal differences....

So why *wouldn't* a writing system that postdates the spoken one reflect
the spoken language?

Otherwise all writing system would have features that don't reflect
usage of the corresponding spoken languages.

Not sure what non-literacy of people has to do with it. I have not
suggested that the existence of a writing system will make non-literate
people literate. On the contrary, I am asking about how the spoken
language affects the evolution of the written language for those who use

I can't give an instance right now, but I can imagine that there have
been times in history where spoken languages were modified by fiat. so,
if that is the case, and since writing systems have certainly been
modified by fiat, it would be possible for them to have been modified

So it is far from clear to me that there are not forces operating in
both directions. Are you saying that there is absolutely no connection
between the nature of *any* spoken languages *ever* and the evolution of
writing systems for them?

If so, that would seem to be a pretty broad claim of the type that is
disproved by a single counter-example.