Journal article

Strategies for representing tone in African writing systems

S Bird

Written Language and Literacy | Published : 1999


Tone languages provide some interesting challenges for the designers of new orthographies. One approach is to omit tone marks, just as stress is not marked in English (zero marking). Another approach is to do phonemic tone analysis, and then make heavy use of diacritic symbols to distinguish the "tonemes" (shallow marking). While orthographies based on either system have been successful, this may be thanks to our ability to manage inadequate orthographies, rather than to any intrinsic advantage which is afforded by one or the other approach. In many cases, practical experience with both kinds of orthography in sub-Saharan Africa has shown that people have not been able to attain the level of..

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