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From:  Wayne in Maine
Date:  Sun Nov 14, 1999  11:24 am
Subject:  Phonetic vs. phonemic

Valeris wrote:
>when we
>write signs "phonetically" - in other words "exactly" the way ONE person
>produces the movements...that most definitely can be done...and that is all
>we did for years. It is only recently that we started writing a "little bit
>of this" and a "little bit of that" is all SignWriting...just
>being applied in different ways.

Valerie and All -
Obvious we're talking about the distinction between a phonetic writing
system, where everything is recorded in great detail so as to be completely
reproducible, vs. a phonemic writing system, where just enough is written to
allow users of the language to recognize which sign is being referred to.
Most spoken languages are written phonemically, not phonetically. If the
"t"'s in the sentence
"Tom put stones in water" (I know, it's a stupid sentence!) were written
phonetically, we'd have to have four different symbols: (1) an aspirated
"t", (2) a non-aspirated "t", (3) a "flapped" (and voiced!) "t", and (4) an
unreleased "t". But speakers of English regard all four of these sounds a
belonging to the same "phoneme" which they call "t". With time, the same
type of thing will happen with SW within each language that it is used to
- Wayne

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