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Standard Padanian Orthography (SPO)

Updated on May 18, 2012

How is Padanian written? Similarly to French, Occitan, Catalan!

This page outlines the main features of Standard Padanian Orthography, the orthographical system for the Padanian language, described in Meneghin [2010].

According to Linell [2005], Vachek [1959], Aaron and Joshi Malatesha [2006], written language is relatively independent from spoken language (within the bounds of a higher-level correspondence between the two, see e.g. Vachek [1959, 15]): as in Frinta [1909, 36] (quoted in Vachek [1959, 8]), the role of orthography is to speak quickly and distinctly to the eyes. Borrowing Richard Venetzky's words about the English orthography (Venetzky [1999, 4]):

the written norm is a complex system that preserves bits of history (i.e. etymology), facilitates understanding, and also translates into sound.

Also, following Chomsky [1968, 49]:

the fundamental principle of orthography is that phonetic variation is not indicated where it is predictable by general rule

and, according to Vachek [1959, 8]

while any system of phonetic transcription provides means for an optical recording of the purely acoustic make-up of spoken utterances, the traditional writing system increasingly tends to refer to the meaning directly without necessarily taking a détour via the corresponding spoken utterances.

Please note: all phonetic transcriptions are in X-SAMPA.

The philosophy of Standard Padanian Orthography

Standard Padanian Orthography has been constructed in the same spirit as the 'Classical' ones for Catalan (Fabra [1918]) and Occitan (see e.g. Bee [1970]), Stich's for Francoprovençal (Stich [1998]), and Hull's UPO (Unified Padanian Orthography, Hull [1982, XXXII]). It is a natural evolution of ORS orthography [Meneghin, 2007].

Because of the greater proximity of Padanian to French, many devices of current French orthography have been implemented as well. Thus, SPO orthography is morphophonemic, (the actual phonetic realisation of a grapheme will in general depend upon the context in which it lies, see e.g. Venetzky [1999], Vachek [1959]), in the belief that properly reconstructing a prestigious written language will help Padanian writers (and speakers) to get free from the present sentiment of subordination to the Italian language.

It is wortwhile to remark that this orthography is similar to that of a classical text of the Padanian literature, the Subalpine Sermons (Anonymous [2003]).

The main features of Standard Padanian Orthography

Standard Padanian Orthography adopts the strategy of getting as close as possible to the most conservative forms as well as conforming to the standards of western Romance orthography. Hence it takes as standards the digraphs pl, bl and fl typical of Rhenania, Engadine and Val Müstair, Val Bregaglia, Val Poschiavo, Upper Valtellina and Livigno, Val Gandino (Bergamo), the upper Chiese Basin, the Noce Basin, the Dolomitic valleys of Gardena, Badia, Marebbe and Livinal-longo, and Friuli (see Hull [1982, 379]).

The Padanian feminine plural marker is derived from the Latin first declension accusative -as, which evolved into -es (Hull [1982, 439]). All the contemporary outcomes are synthesised by the historical Cisalpine script -es.

The masculine plural marker is modelled on the Rhaeto-Romance morphology, hence it is generally formed by adding -s. Dialect variation allows this marker to be considered silent by a phonetic point of view, just as in French. The more conservative dialects (those with sounding -s) display a closer analogy to Catalan and Occitan, while the most innovating ones, like Piedmontese and Lombard will display an almost complete analogy to French and Francoprovençal, where there is no phonetic [s] for plurals, apart from the so called residual liaison.

Once more upon the basis of the principle of the most conservative form, the desinence -r for the infinitive is always written explicitely, even if variously preserved by a phonetic point of view (see e.g. Jaber [1933, table 1014]). This device parallels the one adopted in languages (such as Occitan, Catalan, French and Ladin) where the final phonetic [r] has almost completely disappeared, see e.g. Valentini [2001, 61], Fabra [1918, 26], Salvat [1998, 9]. As far as the former two tongues are concerned, the infinitive desinence is rather -ar; in Padanian, dialect variation between -ar and -er can be observed; SPO adopts form -er, characteristic of Piedmontese, Emilian, Romagnol, Alpine Lombard and Ladin.

Let us now take a look at the use of c, g and j: some preliminar diachronic considerations are needed.

In most Rhaeto-Cisalpine dialects the outcomes of Latin c/g followed by a, o, u are [k] and [g]; in this case, SPO writes c/g accordingly. To different extents, Romansh, Ladin, Friulian and some Alpine Lombard dialects palatalise to [tS], [c] and [dZ], [J\] and SPO writes ch/j correspondingly, preferring the former as standard forms.

When Latin c resp. g are followed by i or e or j is followed by a, o, u, various possible outcomes are, according to Hull [1982, 296-308], [s] resp. [z] in alternation with [tS] resp. [dZ], [tS] resp. [dZ], [S] resp. [Z], [ts] resp. [dz].

SPO adopts, as synthetic standard phonetic renditions for the graphemes c, g, j +vowel the French, Occitan or Catalan ones (but allowing dialect variation). It reintroduces also the historical Cisalpine graphemes ç (before a, o, u) and x variously attested in Padanian historical texts (see these ancient texts, see also Brevini [1984], Hull [1982, 186]) and still alive in Genoese [Toso, 1997]. The use of qu, gu +vowel will be complementary.

On the other hand, cl+vowel resp. gl+vowel are either preserved as such ([kl] resp. [gl]: Romansh, Friulian, alpine Lombard dialects) either palatalised to [tS] resp. [dZ]: SPO is etymological, and it envisages the devices cl resp. gl; the Rhaeto-Romanic forms are in general preferred at a phonetic level too, but dialect variation is welcomed.

Let us now discuss the developments of latin tonic o: according to Hull [1982, 109ff], it underwent many kinds of developments in the Padanese domain, like

• [O] > [wO] > [HO] > [H2] > [2] or [9];

• [O] > [we] > [He] > [H2] > [2] or [9];

• [O] > [Ou] > [u].

As in Hull's reconstruction Hull [1982, 651 ff], SPO proposes to adopt the western-Padanian vocalism as standard, devising to write the sounds [2] and [9] by means of a compromise between French and Ladin contemporary orthography. It adopts eu at the beginning of words, ue (or œu) after c and eu in final position. Etymological exceptions are possible.

The graphemes u and o are treated mostly as in Occitano-Catalan, but the default value of stressed o will be rather [O] as in French in most cases; also, tonic [u] is written ou in most cases.

Another important orthographical device is the suffix -tion: it matches the historical Padanian spelling, already in use with Bonvesin de la Riva, the 'Genoese Anonymus' and up to XVI century with the Bergamasque Giovanni Bressani (modified in -tió by virtue of the eastern Lombard denasalisation of final n; see Bressani [1554]).

Other aspects of Standard Padanian Orthography

We hint at a few SPO orthographical devices more:

• the etymological desinence -en for the sixth person of the verbs is always written down;

• the hyphen - is e used to separate the parts of verbs and clitic prononuns in combination, in post-verbal position only, mostly in the interrogation form (see Meneghin, [2010, §4.12]);

• the grapheme h is preserved, to improve surveyability, in all learned Greek or Latin words, for instance schema, chmica, thema, mechànica, character, or the prefixes chrono-, hetero-, phono-, arch- chiro- etc.

Let us turn to tonic accent: the rule to point out the stressed syllable is very simple. If a word bears a graphical accent, then stress falls on that vowel; otherwise:

• if a word ends by vowel, -es, -is or -en, then the stress falls on the next-to-the last syllable;

• in any other case, the stress falls on the last syllable.

Foreign words are written and read according to the rules of their languages, including plural inflections.

Finally, a neutral final vowel -e is used after muta cum liquida groups (i.e. consonant+l,r) as in French to keep track of the fall of all final unstressed vowels other than -a. This will generally spot the epenthesis of atonic schwa in the muta cum liquida group.

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Synoptic tables

In the following sections, we provide some synoptic tables for Standard Padanian Orthography.

Vowels (1)

Grapheme
 

Phonetic realisations

Examples
 

English meaning
 

a (pretonic)

[@], [a]

abús

abuse, misuse

a (posttonic)

[@], [a]

glaça

ice

a (stressed )

[a], [@]

al parla

he speaks

à (stressed )

[a], [@]

al serà

he will be

ay

[aj]

payer

to pay

e (stressed)

[e], [E]

trenta

thirty

e (unstressed)

[e]

emission

programme, emission

è (stressed only)

[E]

pèrsig

peach (fruit or tree)

-e (final position)

[Ø]

formage

cheese

ei

[ej], [Ej], [e:], [aj]

Milaneis

Milanese

en (prep.)
 

[eN,aN], [iN], [e~], [a~], [i~]

en
 

in
 

ey (stressed only)

[ej], [Ej]

parey

similar

i (between cons.)

[i]

pist

extravagant

i/y (final position)

[i]

ofici/oficy

office

i (before or after vowel, in the same syllable)

[j]
 

lait
hier 

milk
yesterday 

Vowels (2)

Grapheme
 

Phonetic realisations

Examples
 

English meaning
 

í (stressed only)

[i]

chímica

chemistry

ï

[i]

benrïada

welcome

o (unstressed)

[u], [o]

protestant

protestant

o (stressed)

[O]

porta

door

ó (stressed only)

[o]

macró

pander

ò (stressed only)

[O]

nevòden

snowfall

-or (desinence)

[u:r], [u], [o:r], [Owr]

doctor

doctor

ou (stressed only)

[u], [Ow]

amour

love

oy

[oj]

oy

yes

u

[y], [u]

université

university

ú (stressed only)

[y], [u]

múxica

music

œu, eu, ue
(stressed only)
 

[2], [9]
 
 

cœur
nuef 
neveu

heart
new 
nephew

Consonants (1)

Grapheme
 

Phonetic realisations

Examples
 

English meaning
 

b

[b]

bambex

cotton

bl

[bl], [bj], [dZ]

blanc

white

bl (learned words)

[bl]

bibliographia

bibliography

c (before a, o, u)

[k]

cadrega

chair

ç (before a, o, u)

[s], [ts], [T]

ambulança

ambulance

qu (before e, i)

[k]

quilò

here

qü (before e, i)

[kw]

qüint

bill, account

c (before i,e,y)

[s], [ts], [tS]

cent

one hundred, cent

ch

[tS], [cj]

chavra

goat

ch (learned words)

[k]

anachronism

anachronism

cl

[kl], [tS], [cj]

claper

to take

cl (learned words)

[kl]

clima

climate

d

[d]

daner

money

f

[f]

format

format

fl

[fl], [fj], [S]

flour

flower

fl (learned words)

[fl]

flexion

flexion

g (before a, o, u)

[g]

galoper

to gallop

gu (before e, i)

[g]

fondeguer

grocer

Consonants (2)

Grapheme
 

Phonetic realisations

Examples
 

English meaning
 

gü (before e, i)

[gw]

güida

guide

g (before e, i, y)

[Z], [dZ], [dz]

general

general

gl

[gl], [dZ]

gleixa

church

gl (learned words)

[gl]

diglossia

diglossia

gn

[Nn]

tegnica

technique

h (etymological)

[Ø]

homm

man

j

[Z], [dZ], [dz]

just

right, just

k (learned words)

[k]

koiné

koiné

l, ll

[l]

chanel

channel

ly

[L], [j]

mulyer

wife

m

[m]

malgré

in spite of

m (after vowel, before consonant)

[N], [\~{}]
 

champ
 

field, camp
 

mm (intervocalic)

[m]

commun

common

n

[n]

noit

night

n (after vowel, before consonant)

[N], [~]
 

chanter
 

to sing
 

n (intervocalic)

[n]

inici

beginning

nn (intervocalic)

[n], [N]

personna

person

ny

[J]

juny

june


Consonants (3)

Grapheme
 

Phonetic realisations

Examples
 

English meaning
 

p

[p]

penel

paintbrush

ph (learned words)

[f]

glyph

glyph

pl

[pl], [pj], [tS]

plaça

place

pl (learned words)

[pl]

pleonasm

pleonasm

-q (end of a word)

[k]

cinq

five

qu (before a, o)

[kw]

quand

when

r

[r], [4], [r\]

radio

radio

r (intervocalic)
 

[r], [4], [r\], [Ø]
 

scara
 

staircase,   ladder,   scale  

rh (learned words)

[r]

rhotacism

rhotacism

-er (1st group inf.)

[e], [E], [Er]

parler

to speak

s (before voiceless consonant)

[S], [s]
 

despet
 

spite
 

s (before voiced consonant)

[Z], [z], [S]
 

desmener
 

to unwrap
 

s(beginning of a word, before vowel)

[s], [h], [z]
 

soura
 

above, over
 

s (intervocalic)

[z]

ruser

to push

ss (intervocalic)

[s], [h]

desseny

drawing

-s (masc. plural marker)

[s], [Ø]
 

gigants
 

giants
 

-es (fem. plural marker)

[es], [@s], [e], [i], [Ø]
 

donnes
 

women
 

Consonants (4)

Grapheme
 

Phonetic realisations

Examples
 

English meaning
 

sh

[S]

shabla

sabre

t

[t]

trait

line, feature, trait

tg

[tS]

tgi

who

th (learned words)

[t]

theorema

theorem

v

[v]

validité

validity

w (foreign words)

[w]

whisky

whisky

x (beginning or end of a word)

[S]
 

dex
 

ten
 

x (intervocalic)

[Z]

rexon

reason, region

ex (learned words)

[eks]

expert

expert

ex (learned words)

[egz]

exam

exam

x (learned words)

[ks]

anxious 

anxious

y

[j]

consey

advice/board

y (between consonants)

[i]
 

phylo-
 

phylo-
 

z

[z], [dz]

zinna

(ragged) edge


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References

P.G Aaron and R.~Joshi~Malatesha. Written language is as natural as spoken language: A biolinguistic perspective. Reading Psychology, 27, 2006.

Anonymous. Sermoni Subalpini. Ca dë studi Piemontèis, Turin, 2003.

Pierre Bec. Manuel pratique de philologie romane. A. \& J. Picard, Paris, 1970.

Ioannis Bressani Bergomensis Tumuli.. Apud heredes Damiani Turlini, Brixiae (Brescia), 1554

Franco Brevini. Lo stile Lombardo. Pantarei, Lugano, 1984.

Chomsky, N. and Halle M. The Sound Pattern of English. Harper & Row, New York, 1968.

Pompeu Fabra. Gram\`atica Catalana. Institut d'estudis Catalans (facsimile 2006), Barcelona, 1918.

Antonín Frinta. Novoceska vyslovnost. Praha, 1909.

Geoffrey Hull. The linguistic unity of northern Italy and Rhaetia. PhD thesis, University of Sidney West, Sidney, 1982.

J.Jaber, K.and~Jud. Sprach und Sachatlas Italiens und der S\"udschweiz. Ringier & Co., Zofingen, 1933.

Per Linell. The written language bias in linguistics. Routledge (Taylor \& Francis), London, 2005.

Claudi Meneghin. Rebuilding the rhaeto-cisalpine written language: guidelines and criteria. part 1: Ors-orthography. . Ianua, 7, 2007.

Claudi Meneghin. Rhaeto-Cisalpine at a glance. Vol.1. (LINCOM Studies in Romance Linguistics 65), Lincom Europa, München, 2010 ISBN-13 978-3895862083

Josep Salvat. Gramatica Occitana; quinta edicion revista par Ernèst Negre. Collègi d'Occitania, Tolosa, 1998.

Dominique Stich. Parlons Francoprovençal, une langue méconnue. L'Harmattan, Paris, 1998.

Fiorenzo Toso. Grammatica del genovese - Varietà urbana e di koiné. Le Mani - Microart's edizioni, Recco, 1997.

Josef Vachek. Two chapters on written english. Brno studies in English, 1, 1959.

Erwin Valentini. Gramatica dl Ladin Standard. Servisc de Planificazion y Elaborazion dl Lingaz Ladin, Union Generela di Ladins dles Dolomites, Istitut Cultural Ladin "majon di fascegn", Istitut Cultural Ladin "Micurà de Rü", Istitut Pedagogich Ladin, San Martin de Tor, Vich, 2001.

Richard L. Venetzky. The American way of Spelling. The Guilford Press, New York, 1999.

Orthography at Amazon

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Well crafted. Congratulations.