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English diglossia (was Re: retroflex consonants)

From:Joseph Fatula <fatula3@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 29, 2003, 5:16
From: "Tristan" <kesuari@...>
Subject: Re: retroflex consonants

> Joseph Fatula wrote: > > >It is phonemic, "teeth" and "teethe" being an example. Same for "wreath" > >and "wreathe". > > > So explain to me why it was easier to tell the difference between the > /8u/ in /st8ul/ and /st8un/ than the /T/ and /D/ in this and thin? ...
I'd like to tell you, but I have no idea what words those are. Is the second one "stone", perhaps? This illustrates something I've noticed with English that few people seem to agree with, so I'll mention it here. The discrepancies between spoken and written English have gotten pretty serious, at least in pronunciation. And while it causes plenty of problems, making the troubles of English orthography well known, it does have one advantage. In writing (at least, semi-formal writing), I can understand anyone who knows English, even if they're from an area where I have a hard time understanding the spoken English, such as the Bahamas, Australia, Yorkshire, Kentucky, or those on the list whose spoken English might sound unintelligible to my ears. The diglossia that has developed (if that's the term) between spoken and written "pronunciations" has made it possible for widely divergent dialects to have a common written communication form. It seems to be similar to how Arabic and Chinese are understood in their written form by people whose languages are closely related, but not mutually intelligible. Though I might be wrong on the Arabic and Chinese, I have had times where I couldn't understand other dialects of English, but I could understand their writing. Joe


Tristan <kesuari@...>