Do you mean formally?[...] In this line of thought it would be logical to have an alphabet with a sequence of letters which, towards the end, would be going like this:
o, ó, p, r, rz, s, ś, sz, t, u, w, y, z, ź, ż.
Of course, the same thing could be said about many alphabets. The question is: Did anybody ever think of a more “phonemic sequence” for the Polish one?
I can only think of Albanian which is highly pragmatic in this respect.
Seriously, isn't it a bit of an exaggeration? I mean I do discren a triffle of tongue in cheek here but would you really put it on the pedestal of the hardest ones?Język polski cieszy się zasłużoną opinią najtrudniejszego języka świata.
Thomas1 said:Seriously, isn't it a bit of an exaggeration? I mean I do discren a triffle of tongue in cheek here but would you really put it on the pedestal of the hardest ones?
For etymological reasons, I suppose? sandhi rules do not always operate across syllabic boundaries.mcibor said:Moreover in Polish there are words where rz is spoken as r z:
zmarzlina (frozen ground)
Murzasichle (village near Zakopane)
Here's my heresy: who said that alphabets have to be made up of phonemes?Because my question is unusual – most “heresies” are!... – I wouldn’t like it to be dismissed outright. It has to do with the digraphs in use when writing Polish, none of which, however, are reflected in the Polish alphabet. Take cz, rz and sz. Everybody would admit that these represent Polish phonemes. When using diacritics (or the Cyrillic alphabet, which is out of question because of the religious link), such digraphs can be reduced to one letter. The paradox is that digraphs are not being considered as separate entities in a dictionary while phonemes which conventionally happen to be written with one graph are.
If you look up in a Polish dictionary, there will be hordes of words beginning with s. Towards the end of the letter s, suddenly words beginning with sz crop up as if they phonemically belong to the graph representing /s/. They don’t! So why not separate sz from s?
Ideally, an alphabet should be based on the phonemic inventory of a language. The Greeks succeeded marvelously in this task, and so did the Arabs.Outsider said:[W]ho said that alphabets have to be made up of phonemes?
I am not talking about orthography in terms of an Englishman writing colour while an American writes the same word as color, or why [ekrirε] in French may be represented as écriraient.Outsider said:I think you are utterly mistaken about the reasons why a people adopts a certain orthography for its language.
Any language can be written with any script, but there is generally a strong link between alphabet and religion. Why would Catholic Greeks (formerly) use the Latin alphabet for writing Greek? –cf. the so-called φραγκοχιώτικα [frangochiotika], i.e. Greek in ‘Franco-Levantine’ way, frango referring to a word meaning “Catholic” in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, etc. Why would a turcophone Greek Orthodox (formerly) write Turkish with the Greek alphabet, the so-called καραμανλίδικα [karamanlídika]? Why would Ashkenazic Jews write Yiddish with Hebrew ‘block letters’? Why would the Russians choose the Cyrillic alphabet in spite of Christianity being introduced into Rus’ Ukraina by the Byzantines (together with their Greek alphabet) if not because there was at that point already a holy language called Church Slavonic? Why is (basically) the same South Slavic language written with the Latin alphabet by Croats and with the Cyrillic one by the Serbs? Why are Persian and Urdu, two Indo-European languages, written with the Arabic alphabet? Why is Polish written with the Latin alphabet when a special alphabet for writing Slavic languages was (allegedly) invented by those two missionaries who first translated the bible into a Slavic tongue?Outsider said:In most cases, it has little to do with religion. Well, perhaps Eastern Europe is an exception, but more often than not it has to do with culture and history.
That is precisely the reason why they keep the same alphabet as the one “institutionalized” in 403 BC – even if it is a rather “clumsy tool” for writing Modern Greek. It is not more inadequate, however, than the Arabic alphabet for the purpose of writing Farsi. It is basically because Greek is a “holy language” – cf. the original language of the New Testament – that a change of alphabet among Greeks is out of question.Outsider said:You mentioned Greek as the ideal of how an alphabet should be defined. Well, if modern Greeks were to follow your principles, and switch to a completely new alphabet -- since the pronunciation of Greek has changed significantly – they would loose the connection with classical and medieval Greek culture.
I can only guess why you call this highly functional graphemic feature an “oddity”! –but I am too polite to express it. If you look at the so-called “sigmatic aorist” of Greek verbs – by far the most common! – it uses the graphemes ξ [ks] and ψ [ps] for all the verbs provided with a consonant stem. The idea behind the digraph ξ was taken over by the Romans. In the shape of an x this sign proved functional for writing Latin. The other Greek digraph was not - the Romans were pragmatic. For other languages using the Latin alphabet, the x may be of no specific value at all, and yet, it is often counted as a letter. The Poles were pragmatic enough to skip it!Outsider said:Actually, even the Greek alphabet had its oddities, such as separate letters for the consonant clusters
/ps/[ps] and /ks/[ks].
So when you said that Polich spelling was inconsistent you were referring to the fact that it uses both diacritics and digraphs? Well, lots of languages use both. French, for instance (ç, ch, etc.)My concern in this thread is how you represent f.ex. ? – since I can’t produce the IPA sign for the sound sh (as in English shoe), I might as well use the Cyrillic letter to indicate grosso modo the same sound. In Croatian you write this sound š, in German sch, in Norwegian skj, in French ch, in Italian sci, in Hungarian s (/s/ is being written sz!), in Turkish ? -and particularly why Polish uses sz while equally making use of diacritics.
The two are usually connected...This has nothing to do with orthographic conventions reflecting the history of each language, but with the way in which the sounds of a language are being represented graphically – according to an established tradition.
The real question, though, is whether religion was the cause of those features of Polish orthography which you dislike.Any language can be written with any script, but there is generally a strong link between alphabet and religion. Why would Catholic Greeks (formerly) use the Latin alphabet for writing Greek?
Church Slavonic was actually promoted by the Byzantines, and the Cyrillic alphabet is said to have been invented by Byzantine monks. How do you explain that? Why didn't they just reuse the Greek alphabet?Why would the Russians choose the Cyrillic alphabet in spite of Christianity being introduced into Rus’ Ukraina by the Byzantines (together with their Greek alphabet) if not because there was at that point already a holy language called Church Slavonic?
And Roman before that. It wasn't religion that brought the Latin alphabet here; it was culture.Your stress on Eastern Europe (for the link between alphabet and religion) is devoid of any significance because the whole of Western Europe was Catholic before the Reformation.
Should I be thankful for your "politeness"?I can only guess why you call this highly functional graphemic feature an “oddity”! –but I am too polite to express it.
No, it's spelled with just one "o".Outsider said:You mentioned Greek as the ideal of how an alphabet should be defined. Well, if modern Greeks were to follow your principles, and switch to a completely new alphabet -- since the pronunciation of Greek has changed significantly – they would lo
ose the connection with classical and medieval Greek culture.
No, it's a sequence of phonemes, not phones.