Thursday 19 January 2012

taking it for granted

I was asked by a friend of mine who the first person was to use virgules, slants, slashes for phonemes. I slashed flushed with shame and had to confess: "I don't know!"
Can anyone out there help?

UPDATE: In the meantime I found a quotation in one of Daniel Jones's articles in which he writes this:


  1. Bernard Bloch and G. L. Trager in their Outline of Linguistic Analysis in 1942 at page 47 wrote
    "In order to distinguish phonemic symbols from phonetic, we enclose the former between diagonals" [by which they meant forward slashes]
    They dont attribute this convention to anyone else
    so its likely they, or one of them, originated it — but when is not clear.

    1. My thanks to JWL for this quotation. We're homing in on the first one!
      Does anyone have access to Le Maitre Phonetique (sorry for leaving out the accents) of 1934 and 1935? Bloch published an article in each of them in which he might have introduced his use of "diagonals". Please, let me know!