Early Thai orthography
Innovative tone-marking or recent hoax?
Orthographic complexity in Thai is traced diachronically to account for non-linear relationships in the current writing system. As a result of orthographic conservatism over a period of phonological change, an earlier direct phoneme-grapheme isomorphism has shifted to a complex configuration with abstract reinterpretation. What were originally segmental graphemes have acquired hierarchical functions in suprasegmental tone marking. However, aspects of this account have been challenged. A debate has arisen regarding the origins of Thai writing. An early inscription with consistent use of tone marks has been deemed a fake, causing a local uproar. This inscriptional debate is described in some detail as it provides a context appropriate for examining more general questions raised by Share & Daniels (2016) and others regarding multi-dimensional hierarchical depth in orthographic systems. Central to Thai orthographic depth is the claim that early Thai writers marked phonemic tone.
Keywords: abugida, akshara, alphasyllabary, attribution, graphematic hierarchy, orthographic depth, suprasegmental, Thai, tone
- 2.Discovery (or fakery?) of the Ram Khamhaeng inscription
- 3.The Ram Khamhaeng orthography as an integrated plan
- 4.Thai orthography in the fourteenth century and beyond
- 4.1Orthographic practice of King Lithai (r. 1347–1370?)
- 4.2Consonant shapes
- 4.3Indic etymological retentions
- 4.4Consonant cluster representation
- 4.5Aspirated continuant digraphs such as หม <hm>, หน <hn>, หล <hl>
- 4.6Creation of new graphemes from old
- 4.7Vowel developments
- 4.8Tone-marking developments
- 4.9Sound changes or clever fakery?
- 5.Concluding remarks
This article is currently available as a sample article.
Published online: 09 February 2018
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