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Re: YAEPT: apparently bizarre 'A's (was Re: YEAPT: f/T (was Re: Other Vulgar Lat

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 22, 2006, 19:40
On 2/22/06, R A Brown <ray@...> wrote:
> BTW you seem to have interchanged [ ] and / / throughout. The square > brackets [] denote _phonetic_ values; these are not language dependent. > the slashes denote phonemes of a given language.
As your explanation and mine have opposite specificities, perhaps I should clarify further. A symbol between [..] refers to a specific sound, exactly as pronounced; you can be confident that wherever you see the same symbol between [...], exactly the same sound is meant, regardless of the language being discussed. You can find recordings online of the sounds of the IPA and hear exactly what each symbol represents, and that symbol will always represent that sound. This is called "phonetic" notation. Any given language uses only a subset of the sounds found in the IPA. Moreover, these sounds may be grouped into sets that all constitute "the same sound" as far as speakers of that language are concerned. For instance, English does not recognize a difference between the aspirated sound [p_h] found in most speakers' pronunciation of "pot" and the unaspirated sound [p] found in most speakers' pronunciation of "spot". Those two sounds are considered "the same". In such a case, we say that the language has a single "phoneme" - a sort of Platonic ideal of a sound - that manifests itself as different sounds phoneitcally depending on the environment. Each such phonetic realization is called an "allophone", and one allophone's phonetic symbol is chosen somewhat arbitrarily to represent the entire phoneme. (This is often but not always the most common allophone). However, that symbol is placed between /.../ instead of [...] to indicate that it's a phoneme rather than an exact phonetic transcription. Thus |spot| and |pot| may be written phonemically as /spOt/ and /pOt/, with the same symbol /p/ in both even though they have different allophones when spoken aloud. So far, this is all within the context of a particular language or dialect. When you start comparing related languages or dialects, you get wider variation. Now a single original phoneme may have all sorts of different phonetic realizations across the dialect continuum. These are not really allophones, as they don't occur in different environments within the same dialect, but in the same environment in different dialects. But similar considerations apply. Theoretically, there is some underlying Original English and our various dialects are just surface realizations of this Ur-language. :) So I might still write these words phonemically as /spOt/ and /pOt/, even though in my particular 'lect they are [spat] and [p_hat]. -- Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>


Tristan Alexander McLeay <conlang@...>