18 October 2013

SA Phonetic Notation Key (CU, 2013)

Languages, Part 6a

SA Phonetic Notation Key (CU, 2013)

The motto of the coat of arms - !ke e:/xarra//ke - is in the Khoisan language of the /Xam people, and means "diverse people unite", or "people who are different joining together". Click on the link above to hear the pronunciation of this national motto.

This item is to introduce a concept, a possible tool, that could assist South Africans to learn how to pronounce each others’ languages.

The attached document is in the form of a table. In the left-hand column, phonetic symbols based on the “IPA” that we saw yesterday, are listed. The list of symbols is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient to cover the range of the South African official languages.

In the next 11 columns, words are to be put - words belonging to all the SA official languages – so that reading across one can find an example in his or her own language, of that pronunciation.

When it is complete, it will serve as a key to the pronunciation of all of these languages. Given the phonetic notation of any word, one can read across to find vowel and consonant equivalents, in the different languages.

If used over time, the table would eventually teach the user how to read the phonetic notation without using the table.

Alternatively, the process could be computerised into an “app” (application). On a device such as a laptop, or a smart phone, the pronunciation of any South African word could be read off or played in the form of sound.

The table is not complete, because it turns out to be a large task to compile it in the first place. It is the kind of work that needs to be “crowd sourced”. The work-in-progress should at least be sufficient to convey the idea that means can be found, and put in the hands of the citizens, whereby they can lower the barriers between languages in South Africa to a material degree.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Phonetic notation and equivalent phonemes in SA words (draft form of table, CU, 2013).


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