--- In qalam@yahoogroups.com, Michael Everson <everson@...> wrote:
> At 20:51 +0100 2005-09-01, Andrew Dunbar wrote:

> Learning the values of 26 letters isn't learning a language, but I
> mean, come ON. To type the euro sign, I have to type alt-2. Is that
> "natural" in any meaningful way?

> I don't think that monoglot Vai speakers will get very far with
> computers if they don't learn the Latin script. I don't think that it
> is unfair or unreasonable to expect them to understand the advantages
> of the Latin script with regard to computers. And it isn't "cultural
> imperialism", but simple realism that is behind this view. Even if
> Firefox is localized into Vai, the Vai user who wants to go to
> http://www.vai.lr is, amazingly enough, going to have to figure out
> how to type h and t and p.

Have you any idea how wrong that is? About the only thing that makes
that anywhere near true is Firefox's propensity to lose bookmarks when
the computer loses power!

1. Trivial (and probably most galling) point - www.vai.lr will do :)

2. More seriously, one can do a great deal of navigation just by point
and click, and saving of bookmarks. The designers of the web TV
system on NTL assumed you would not want to navigate by editing the
URL of the page you were looking at.

3. Won't Vai URLs be available? Admittedly, quite a few Vai
characters may be banned from URLs.

4. Just copying the Roman letters is not the big problem.

> How long would it take a Vai person to learn what the letter T means?
> And the letter A? And that typing one after the other allows him to
> type the Vai syllable TA? Years? Months? Hours? Minutes?

The issue is to get this working with all the basic 231 (not double
checked) syllables, for which the penny must drop. I'm pretty sure it
will take more than hours - I'm still having to refer to the tables
for the SIL Vai keyboard (for the keyboardable characters, that is),
and _I_ rarely write non-alphabetically (apart from a few dozen
logograms) and grasped the principle of the SIL scheme immediately.

This needs to work for thick people, not just smart people, and the
odds seem high that the average Vai is thicker than the average
person, simply for environmental reasons. Your Vai sample is
definitely smarter than the average Vai, and obviously have more get
up and go than average if you're meeting them in New York!

And if this works, you might get him to type characters he would never
dream of writing! (A positive move against grocer's Vai? :) There may
be a bit of a muddle with the characters that seem to have various
pronunciations, such as ON, HI and HAN, though I presume there would
not be serious problems with homophones (is that the right word?) such
as MEE and MBEE - MEE simply isn't used. I tried to find examples of
problems caused by distinctions that commonly aren't made, but JE v.
YE is the best I can come up with.