What is overrepresentation?

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Overrepresentation is using two different symbols to represent two allophonesof the same phoneme.


Generally, allophones should not receive separate symbolization in the orthography, since mother tongue speakers tend to be unaware of the differences.


However, there might be justification for overrepresentation for the following reasons:

  • Pressure as a result of phonemic differences between related dialects


    Some dialects have a larger inventory of phonemes than the dialect chosen as the standard for writing. If this is the case, overrepresentation in the standard dialect would mean full representation for another dialect. Full representation in the standard dialect would mean underrepresentation in the other dialect

  • Conformity to the inventory of symbols used for the official language


    If the official language has symbols for allophones of a phoneme, there might be pressure to represent them in other alphabets in the same country.

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Page content last modified: 24 September 1999

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