Sound-alikes vs. near sound-alikes

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
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Alan Bunning
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Sound-alikes vs. near sound-alikes

Post by Alan Bunning » January 1st, 2017, 1:34 pm

I am beginning to make some good progress into my excursion into orthography, and here is some of my current thinking:

1. The main lexical entry will represent the most common probable spelling based on some metric. Alternative forms of the word are then linked to the lexical entry. This is already done, but I will have to change some of the choices made for main lexical entries after I apply the metric.

2. Alternative spellings of a word are then linked to the correct form of the lexical entry. I have already done this with the help of a program that finds homophones by breaking the words down into phonemes and then applying a set of rules.

3. Any words that don’t follow the rules in category #2 are then considered to be misspellings and are also linked to the correct form of the lexical entry and classified by the type of error i.e. dittography, haplography, etc. (thanks to Stephen Hughes for the idea of classifying them). This is also almost finished.

4. And then there are other types of errors where it is unknown what word is trying to be represented by various stray letters.

My current concern lies in category 2, as it is currently a big category and there is quite a continuum between what may be considered an alternative spelling versus what may be considered a misspelling. So I am trying to see if I could break down step 2 into two categories: 2a) sound-alikes and 2b) near sound-alikes.

Rules that perhaps I would use as sound-alikes for category 2a are:

e=ai, i=ei, o=w, u=oi,
g=c, k=c, d=q, d=t, q=t, z=s, m=n, p=f,
gx=x, mp=p, my=y, nb=mb, ng=gg, nk=gk, nl=ll, nm=mm, nx=gx, np=mp, nc=gc, nf=mf, ny=my, ns=s, nz=z
a=aa, b=bb, d=dd, g=gg, q=qq, k=kk, l=ll, m=mm, n=nn, p=pp, r=rr, s=ss, t=tt,

And then any leftover rules would make up near sound-alikes in category 2b, but I am not very sure about a lot of them:

a=e, ai=ei, a=au, a=o, a=w, u=ou, oi=ou, h=e, h=i, h=ei, i=e, u=i, e=ee, g=k,

(My apologies for not using unicode here, I just cut and pasted them out of my program.) Certainly, these substitutions are being made by various scribes, but I guess my problem is I don’t know how much something sounded like something else. Being originally taught Erasmian pronunciation is not helping at all, as it is hard to see how some of those sounds could be confused for others. Why would “α” ever sound like “ω”, or “α” like “ε”, or “ε” like “ι”? Did “γ” not make a distinct enough sound from “κ”? Buth said that “η” was not pronounced consistently so perhaps it belongs in category 2b. I am also not too sure about some of the softenings of consonants made in category 2a. Is some of this driven by dialect? How would you apply these rules? Or would you even make a distinction between 2a and 2b? I am looking for any input you can give me here.

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Sound-alikes vs. near sound-alikes

Post by Stephen Hughes » January 1st, 2017, 3:44 pm

●Is there a way to categorise these 2a / 2b divisions according to whether they occur in the case ellipsis or a negative particle οὐ (οὐκ/οὐχ) on the one hand or as variants in the context of a complete word on the other hand? There are probably different processes going on for changes that happen at a word juncture level compared to those that happen inside a word.

●There may be different explanations for different things too, depending on what approach you analyse the data with, eg. λήψεται and λήμψεται if explained by euphony, may be described as the introduction of a mu "μ", into the pronunciation and hence spelling because it is easier to pronounce, or by "folk" morphology taking the mu analogously from the present.

●Putting γ - κ in 2b seems a wee bit daft when you've got other voiced / unvoiced pairs δ=θ and ζ=ς in 2a. What model of mapping phonology to orthographty are you working with? Presumably now not a 1:1 correspondence like the Erasmian system you learnt may have left you assuming.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Alan Bunning
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Re: Sound-alikes vs. near sound-alikes

Post by Alan Bunning » January 1st, 2017, 4:38 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:●Putting γ - κ in 2b seems a wee bit daft when you've got other voiced / unvoiced pairs δ=θ and ζ=ς in 2a.
I liked it in 1a, but then didn't like it when the substitution occurred in words that started with κ, like "γραββατοσ" for "κραββατοσ" and "γρυπτω" for "κρυπτω". Perhaps I should add rules for the place in which the substitution occurs. Likewise, I didn't mind when "α" was substituted for "ω" or "ο" when it was used as a connector for a compound word, but I didn't like it so much when it occurred other places in a word.

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: Sound-alikes vs. near sound-alikes

Post by Stephen Hughes » January 2nd, 2017, 12:02 am

Evidently the starting point reflected in the traditional spelling is 3 stops - voiced unaspirated (/g/), unvoiced unaspirated (/k/) and unvoiced aspirated /(kh/) and the end point, perhaps hinted at in the "errors" is 2 stops (both voiced and unvoiced) a fricative and a semi vowel, all without any aspiration (/k/, /g/, /γ/ and /j/), or as suggested by the need for a synthetic future, three, with only a positional variation (non-marked) between /k/ and /g/. After our period, scribes came to employ the digraph γκ for /g/, along with ντ for /d/ and μπ /b/, so that the 4 consonantal sounds of the developing phonology could be represented in the spelling.

To what extent the alphabet was adapted, and to what extent it was able to retain the traditional spellings may not have straight-line path of development.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Alan Bunning
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Joined: June 5th, 2011, 7:31 am
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Re: Sound-alikes vs. near sound-alikes

Post by Alan Bunning » January 3rd, 2017, 2:44 am

I am thinking now that the best thing to do would be to simply record whatever substitutions were made for each word without drawing any distinctions between categories 2 and 3. That way I could query which scribes did which things and how frequently they were done, which would be great for studying scribal tendencies.

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