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Why Minimal? was: Unilang: the Phonology

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Wednesday, April 18, 2001, 14:53
Oskar's presentation of his system made me wonder, once more, why many
auxlang projects are so preoccupied with phonemic minimalism.

In an old auxlang project of mine (guilty, me too!) I did the opposite:
included in the inventory 70+ consonants and 10 short monophthongs (plus
tons of long mono- and diphthongs), and was thinking about tones.

My reasons were:

1) Learning a few dozens of phonemes is next to nothing, compared to
studying the other aspects of a lang (esp. the lexicon).

2) It's not so difficult to present large phonemic inventories if you
teach people combining distinctors (voicedness, aspiration, glottalization,
etc.) rather than separately articulating each phomeme.

3) People will probably prefer a system that does not distort too much the
native sound of their own names, local placenames, etc.

4) There are some points in favor of directly borrowing technical terms
from certain widespread traditions. That is, like Interlingua allows in
fact for every technical latinism if used in several Western langs, it is
expedient to allow borrowing e. g. the Buddhist terms from Sanskrit /
Pali / Wenyan / Tibetan, and the like.

So I ended up in an attempt to combine the inventories of Latin, Greek,
Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic, Classical Farsi, etc. into something fairly

I haven't made much progress beyond the phonology, though.