OLAC Record

Title:Factors in designing effective orthographies for unwritten languages

Recent interest in preserving endangered languages has led to a corresponding interest in orthographies for such languages. This paper, based on SIL’s decades-long corporate experience as well as literature studies, summarizes the major factors which must be considered when planning an orthography. Issues of acceptability and usability must be balanced with the obvious prerequisite of linguistic soundness. The linguistic issues include the choice of graphemes (”letters of the alphabet”), decisions on word breaks, level of phonological representation, representation of suprasegmentals such as tone, etc. However, sociolinguistic and other political factors (e.g. government policies, varied dialects, language attitudes, and the influence of other orthographies) often take precedence over a linguistically ideal orthography. Finally, the practical issue of local font availability must be addressed. The development of an effective orthography is thus of greater complexity than commonly conceived.

Contributor (author):Cahill, Michael
Karan, Elke
Date (W3CDTF):2008
Description (URI):http://www.sil.org/resources/archives/7830
Extent:16 pages
Identifier (URI):http://www.sil.org/resources/archives/7830
Is Part Of:SIL Electronic Working Papers 2008-001
Language (ISO639):eng
Spatial Coverage (ISO3166):GH
Subject:Daai Chin language
Konni language
Subject (ISO639):dao
Type (DCMI):Text
Type (OLAC):language_description


Archive:  SIL Language and Culture Archives
Description:  http://www.language-archives.org/archive/sil.org
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OaiIdentifier:  oai:sil.org:7830
DateStamp:  2013-04-27
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Search Info

Citation: Cahill, Michael; Karan, Elke. 2008. SIL Electronic Working Papers 2008-001.
Terms: area_Africa area_Asia area_Europe country_GB country_GH country_MM dcmi_Text iso639_dao iso639_eng iso639_kma olac_language_description

Inferred Metadata

Country: GhanaMyanmar
Area: AfricaAsia

Up-to-date as of: Mon Jun 15 5:11:36 EDT 2015