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Detested sounds, was: Work in progress - Phonology

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 18, 2001, 18:05
On Tue, 18 Dec 2001 09:11:20 +1100, John-Emmanuel <jokerhand@...>

>And the speakers absolutely DETEST the voiced palato-alveolar and velar >fricatives (for some strange reason....), they just do not exist in the >language.
Which reminds me of a question I often want to ask. There are loads of examples of natlangs borrowing phonemes (or sound combinations, or phonemic distinctions in certain positions) that cannot appear in native words. It seems that *mostly* such systemic borrowings happen when the borrowed combination of phonemes or phonemic features *fills some gap* in the original inventory. For example, consider Middle English borrowing word-initial [z], [Z], [dZ], and the clusters [sk], [skr], [skl]. I imagine, the mechanism could have worked like the following: If your language distinguishes between the affricates in _ridge_ and _rich_, and has words like _chin_ [tSIn], what prevents you from imitating the sound of some foreign word like [dZIn]? If your language has the phonemes [p], [t], [k], and [s], and allows the clusters [sp] and [st], who can forbid the speakers to use [sk] in a foreign name? Similarly, if a language (say, Old Russian) has [v], and the rest of its fricatives support the distinction "voiced :: voiceless", guess how the speakers will pronounce a foreign (say, Greek) name beginning with [f]? So, THE QUESTION: While postulating a gap in the inventory of phonemes (allowed clusters, etc.) in your conlangs, did you try to justify this gap (in fact, a TABOO) by some "inner" reason relevant for the system you were constructing? What kind of inner (systemic) factors (causes) do you think can support this type of bans? Have you ever thought about such things as "potential phonemes", with reference to your conlang(s)? Basilius -


Irina Rempt <irina@...>