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Re: Phoneme Question

From:John Vertical <johnvertical@...>
Date:Sunday, August 5, 2007, 21:44
On Sat, 4 Aug 2007 19:28:09 -0700, Joseph Fatula wrote:

> Here we'll talk about a language that has 32 possible syllables, >phonetically. There are basically 16 phonetic realizations of >consonants, and 8 phonetic vowels. > > I could analyze this as a language with only 2 vowels that have >allophones based on the preceding consonant, in which case there are 8 >consonants
(I think you mean "16 consonants")
>or I could describe this as a language with 8 vowels and >only 4 consonants, which have allophones based on the following vowel. >Which is it? How can I tell? > > The syllables are as follows, orthographical first, then XSAMPA: > > "pa fa ma va - te se ne re - či ši ñi li - qu xu �?u wo" > "pâ fâ mâ vâ - tê sê nê rê - tî šî nî rî - kû hû �?û wû" > > [pa fa ma Ba - te se ne 4e - cCi Si Ji Li - qu xu Nu wo] > [p6 f6 m6 B6 - t@ s@ n@ 4@ - tI SI nI 4I - kU hU NU wU]
Yeah, the thing is that you *can't* tell by this alone; too much complementary distribution. You'd need to test whether nativ speakers interpreted, say, [k@] as /t@/or /p6/ or /kU/. However, the triplets /cCI tI t@/, /Ji nI n@/ & /Li 4I 4@/ suggest that at least the 16-consonant analysis does not work. I would expect /cCI JI LI/ in that case... Also, [qu] strikes me as a bit surprizing, what with [u] being closer to [k]. If you want more distinction from [kU], why not [kw)u]? Or [?U] for the latter, for symmetry with [xu hU]? I'd *prefer*, OTOH, an analysis with 4 vowels and 8 consonants - merging the velars + labials as a "gravis" and the alveolars + palatals as an "acute" series; and merging /a 6 u U/ with /e @ i I/ resp. to have just ±tense & ±high. Actually, maybe gravis/acute could be better considered a suprasegmental feature here; you could whittle the numbers down to 4*4 then. John Vertical


Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>