Re: Burmese vowels

From: Raven Travillian (
Date: Wed Oct 14 1998 - 19:05:49 EDT

Hi, Rick--

In Khmer, there are multiple independent vowels, which are not commonly
used--mainly, they occur in words from Sanskrit or Pali. They cannot, as
far as I have ever seen, take dependent vowels.

There is one letter which, like the independent vowels, permits a vowel
sound without an associated consonant. The letter, represented as "q" in
the transliteration used in the series of Khmer books by Franklin Huffman,
represents a glottal stop, and appears in the alphabet along with all the
consonants. It is considered a consonant, not a vowel.

It has been years since I studied Tibetan, and regrettably I have
forgotten a lot, but I seem to remember that the letter which you are
referring to, below, as an independent vowel, is actually like "q" in
Khmer--a symbol for a glottal stop, which by itself you don't really hear
so much, but which permits the dependent vowels to exist independent of
the other consonants. As I seem to recall, it, too, is regarded as a
(silent) consonant.

To the best of my recollection, then, I think it's fair to say Tibetan
has no independent vowels, and that Khmer has independent vowels which
dependent vowels cannot be attached to. I would expect the other Brahmic
scripts to preserve the distinction between dependent vowels, independent
vowels, and the glottal stop that Khmer preserves, though that expectation
could be easily disproven by one example of a language which doesn't
preserve the disctinction.

--Raven Travillian

 On Wed, 14 Oct 1998, Michael Forgey wrote:

> At 10:28 AM 10/14/98 -0700, you wrote:
> >> This also seems quite exceptional for a Brahmic language;
> >> attaching dependent vowels onto an independent vowel. Is that even allowed
> >> in Unicode?
> >
> >Happens in Tibetan, too. There is only one independent vowel, and it takes
> >various vowel signs.
> >
> > Rick
> >
> So then, it's not "illegal" to combine independent vowels with dependent
> vowels; though, it is not often done?
> mike

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