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Re: Bilabial / labiodental distinction

From:JS Bangs <jaspax@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 11, 2002, 22:26
Christopher B Wright sikyal:

> IPA and X-SAMPA don't give any values for labiodental plosives. However, > they (the l.d.p.'s) would seem to be pronounceable. Since they don't have > special values, should I conclude that they just don't sound different > than their bilabial equivalents? Or is it that the sounds don't appear in > natlangs?
The sounds don't occur in natlangs, at least not contrastively. There *are* symbols for at least a few of the labiodental plosives (as I remember), but the number of languages that actually use them is between 0 and 3, or something like that.
> Would people be able to distinguish between these? Is this neat feature I > made up totally useless, deserving of the scrap heap, ektera, ektera?
I actually think that physical constraints limit the use of these. It requires a lot of effort to form a complete closure between the teeth and the lips, and any relaxation at all will tend to reduce the stops to fricatives. So the labiodental fricatives [f v] are pretty common, but their stop counterparts are nearly nonexistent. (This is essentially the same reason why palatal plosives are rare, but palatal affricates and fricatives are not.) Jesse S. Bangs "If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time." --G.K. Chesterton