Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Unilang: in Practice

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Thursday, April 19, 2001, 19:15
At 9:26 pm -0400 18/4/01, Oskar Gudlaugsson wrote:
>On Wed, 18 Apr 2001 19:30:04 +0000, Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...> >wrote: > >>Yes, I think you're safe here. We did agree some time back that >>_construction_ of an auxlang is Ok here; it's the Auxlang politics that >>belong to that other list (where, as you say, some characters are kind of >>touchy ;) > >Just consider that I spent something like 4-5 months of active writing on >that list, until I realized that those guys simply aren't interested in >auxlang theory. I finally snapped when, upon presenting some scheme similar >to this, along with lots of general ponderings about the matter, I just got >asked: "Who's your language for? How do you intend to propagate it?"
I congratulate you on seeing the light far earlier than I did. I stuck with that bunch for three or four years. It was the petty inter-Novialachist wars that finally made me quit.
>Since I'm still fairly connected to reality,
Good for you - it took me awhile to re-adjust to reality after quitting that surreal world :)
>I don't actually dream of _making_ >people speak in some way I've decided.
You do well to high-light _making_ IME - that does seem to be the attitude of some denizens of that list.
>I do it for my own academic stimulation, i.e. "fun".
Great - sounds just like my long unfinished 'briefscript' project. Yes, one we lose the "fun" goal, then IMO we do start getting things out of perspective.
> >>I also agree that if Oskar really wants that "All sounds should be roughly >>approximable by any speaker of any human language. Distinctions between >>sounds should be as basic as possible.", then only one liquid is desirable. >>It's well known that Chinese & Japanese speakers have problems with >>AngloAmerican /l/ and /r/ - but they are not the only one. Some African >>languages do not readily the two - and the pronunciations of /r/ in the >>worlds languages varies enormously. > >Well, that's just a question of personal evaluation. I believe we agree on >the premises, the guidelines, which is most important.
I agree on both points.
> >Up until now, I've always been against /r/ in the unilang. My tolerance for >it stems from the fact that there are various methods left to pronounce /r/ >that do not conflict with the other phonemes (and would be generally >recognizable), primarily the alveolar-trilled-as-per-Spanish, coronal- >approximant-as-per-English-or-Mandarin, or uvular-trilled-as-per-French.
Ye-e-e-s - but the Mandarin version is a voiced retroflex alveopalatal fricative, not the AngloAmerican alveolar approximant. The uvular trill is considered 'old-fashioned' in modern France; the normal sound given now is the 'Parisian' uvular approximant. I'm just a bit worried that the range is too wide for all the variations to be easily regarded as allophones of /r/.
>But it's not just that. My thought is that we are, sooner or later, forced >to make concessions in the "ease" factor. One reason is, there is a certain >minimum of phonemes that we'll need, if we are not to run into lexical >problems. Another is renderability.
By which I assume unilang will have an essentially (entirely?) a_posteriori vocabulary.
>Finally, though it may not be an >argument per se, I think the "ease" factor is rather overrated; the >acquisition of some of these basic sounds can hardly be unsurmountable, >compared to what language learners generally have to accomplish.
Agreed - but the trouble is that learners do not always accomplish them. I have a multicultural mix of students and while the English most is comprehensible, some are diffult to follow and the English of many of their parents is extremely difficult to follow. I also know that overseas students do often have trouble with native speakers who do not use a south west London accent or the American of cartoons & films. It's not so much ease of pronunciation, I think, that is the problem, but ease of perception; with a small range of phonemes as, e.g. Hawaian, there must surely be less likelihood of hearing a sound as the wrong phoneme, than there is in a language like English where, e.g. I remember mis-hearing a Tamil student's "symbol" as "simple". 'Taint an easy business to know where to strike the balance. FWIW I've had similar problems with my briefscript project - tho for different reasons - and I long tried to ditch /r/ and keep only /l/. But I think I'll have to retain /r/ - I can't think of anything better to use {r} for. At the moment I'm wondering if I can keep it as a trill, in the Welsh practice, either apical (the normal one) or uvular (in some parts of north Wales). Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================