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The (UN)importance of pronunciation

From:Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>
Date:Saturday, January 10, 2004, 17:14
Out of curiosity I did a little research project this
morning.  Here's what I discovered:

In English, words of 4 letters or less are often
distinguished by their vowel(s).

ding dong
king kong
ping pong
far fur fir for

Words longer than 4 words (unless they are short words
with suffixes -es, -ed, -er: baker biker, bakes bikes,
baked, biked ) are not often distinquished by their
vowels.  A few examples are alive-olive, broke-brake.
Words of 6 or 7 letters or more are virtually never
distinguished by their vowels.

Thus if I take the word "elevator" and replace all the
vowels with a single generic placeholder: -l-v-t-r,
there is no other word in the English language with
that pattern. There are a few close, but not very
close, calls:

elevator    -l-v-t-r
elaborate   -l-b-r-t-
illfavored  -lf-v-r-d  (treating the double LL as a
ultraviolet -ltr-v--l-t

So in longer words vowels don't matter at all. And in
shorter words, where they appear to matter, they don't
matter when you put them into a context.

If you were standing in the entry of an office
building and someone gave you these directions
verbally, you'd have no trouble understanding them:

gay oop da stars ta zi tap flour, gay dune za hell ti
di tard dur en za leeft, oopun za dour en gay rat own

So, while I understand the allure of exploring mouth
sounds, my own personal preference is to explore
grammars and word building.  That's the beauty of
conglanging; there's material enough to please a large
variety of tastes and preferences.



Axiem <axiem@...>
Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
John Cowan <cowan@...>
Muke Tever <hotblack@...>
Garth Wallace <gwalla@...>