[freedict] Re: pronunciation formatting in WikDict dictionaries

  • From: Piotr Bański <bansp@xxxxx>
  • To: freedict@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 31 Dec 2020 01:37:39 +0100

Hi all,

I am not sure if the upstream brackets in this case are significant -- dictionary makers usually know little about the IPA and the slash vs. square bracket (broad vs. narrow transcription) conventions that are far more significant to phonologists writing for other phonologists.

The practical reason for ignoring the distinction is that narrow, allophonic transcription that is usually signalled with square brackets -- recall: by phonologists for phonologists -- either begins to be significant _in the context_, that is, when two words meet in an utterance, and one influences the other, or it is in most cases fully predictable from the internal make-up of the word. Dictionary makers will usually skip most of the allophonic info as too detailed.

To give an example:

the 'r' sound in the following (let's say British) English words is (well, can be) actually different: three, tree, stream, borrow. The first is (well, can be) called a 'flap', the second is a fully devoiced fricative, the third is a half-devoiced fricative, the fourth is sometimes called a "frictionless continuant" (among other terms). Each of them receives a different symbol in the narrow transcription (actually, in the two middle cases, the 'r' symbols get some extra stuff attached to them). It would be super silly for a dictionary of English meant for "general consumption" to indicate such differences. I'm not saying that there are no dictionaries that do, but those that we are dealing with are not so specialized. For them, all of the 'r' sounds are just an instance of /r/, in slanted brackets, and rightly so.

The fact that some dictionary makers will choose [] over // is in most cases only a matter of their aesthetic or practical preference, not a signal about the kind of transcription that is used.

Best wishes,


On 30/12/2020 18:10, Sebastian Humenda wrote:

Hello Karl

Karl Bartel schrieb am 30.12.2020, 15:13 +0100:
Less specific notes:
* More dictionaries containing embedded slashes:
   ita-bul, ita-ell, ita-fin, ita-jpn, ita-pol, ita-rus, ita-swe,
   ita-tur, nld-fin, nld-itam, nld-lat, nld-lit, nld-por, nld-rus,
   nld-spa, nld-swe

Thanks for spotting, that's a WikDict bug :).
I'm preserving the upstream brackets, since the different bracketing styles
provide information about the enclosed text[1]. I can certainly strip the
different brackets from the entries, if that is desired. Should I go ahead
and do that?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA#Brackets

I wasn't aware of the subtle difference. As I cannot read IPA myself, I had
the potentially wrong impression that IPA is *always* universal and
language-agnostic. Therefore the linked page doesn't make much sense to me. If
there is indeed a variant of IPA for native speakers and another for
foreigners, then this would need to be represented in TEI. But this looks
unfamiliar to me.


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