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!Ui phonemes

From:Andreas Johansson <and_yo@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 22, 2002, 17:16
An article in the Oct 19th-25th issue of The Economist (page 48) mentions a
Khoisan language called "!Ui" as having 140+ phonemes, which's rather more
than the ~110 I've heard for other Khoisan languages. Is this reliable? And
what ARE these dozens of phonemes? How many are humanly possible?

Also the article claims that spoken languages "usually" employ around twenty
phonemes - is this correct? I'd expected a bit more; even Hawaiian has IIRC
14, and there seems to be plenty languages with something more like 25-40.
Could 20 be correct median or average number, and if so, which?


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Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>