Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Labiodental Flap:

If you're lucky enough to be able to access the New York Times online, you can click here to see an image of the new character that will represent the labiodental flap, a sound used in many more languages than the Xhosa 'click'. The symbol for this sound looks like a lower case v whose right side is more like a tilted lower case r. “The sound, a buzz sometimes capped by a faint pop, is present in more than 70 African languages. It is produced by the lower lip moving back and forward, flapping on the inside of the upper teeth.”

Other, rarer sounds await their own official recognition. Meanwhile I wonder how soon we'll be able to see the labiodental flap as a letter in computer displays. It has to be added to many fonts, and those fonts have to be distributed to your computers, players, TV sets and telephones. Two or three years should do it.
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