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Re: alien xeno-anthropologists (was: Abkhaz)

From:Caleb Hines <cph9fa@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 10, 2004, 2:50
Well, it would be the spelling that determines the lexical meaning of the
word, not the pronounciation. But I guess I see your point, in terms of the
definition of phoneme. Call it however many unwritten vowel phonemes you
want to, in which case, the last part should say that "The choice of a
particular silent placeholder consonant in no way determines the choice of a
particular unwritten vowel phoneme."

Also, I forgot to mention that digraphs, trigraphs, and quadrigraphs(?!) of
consonants may act as a single placeholder for a vowel phoneme:

'meat' - The consonant digraph 'ea' is a placeholder for /i/.
'beautiful' - The consonant trigraph 'eau' is a placeholder for /ju/.
'bordeaux' - The consonant quadrigraph 'eaux' is a placeholder for /o/.

And just to prove that the placeholders don't determine the choice phonetic
'through' - The quadrigraph 'ough' is a placeholder for /u/.
'thought' - The quadrigraph 'ough' is a placeholder for /a/ (at least in my
'though'  - The quadrigraph 'ough' is a placeholder for /o/.
'trough'  - The quadrigraph 'ough' is a placeholder for the diphthong /af/*.
'tough'   - The quadrigraph 'ough' is a placeholder for the diphthong /Vf/*.
*(did I forget to mention that /f/ can also function as a vowel?)

Besides, if I'm the only one left, how's the poor alien going to know that
I'm wrong?

"Just because you _aliens_ define a phoneme as such-and-such doesn't mean
that that's how it was done here on good ol' Earth!" :-p


--- In, Philip Newton <philip.newton@G...> wrote:
> On Sun, 8 Aug 2004 15:23:55 -0500, Caleb Hines <cph9fa@a...> wrote: > > English only has one vowel, > > I take this to mean "English has only one vowel phoneme" > > > but it has many phonetic realizations. This > > vowel is never written in the text, but the consonants a, e, i, o, u,
> > sometimes y are silent and act as placeholders for this vowel. > > This is trivially false, as "bat", "bet", "bit", "bot", and "but" have > the same structure: C1 "b", silent placeholder consonant, C2 "t". > > If realisation is conditioned only on the environment and there is > only one vowel phoneme, all those words must mean the same thing. > However, they don't. > > If the various written words represent syllables with different vowel > phones, and the words have different meanings, then the phones must > represent distinct phonemes, which contradicts the initial information > that there is but one phoneme. > > > Under no > > condition is the choice of a placeholder consonant at all related to the > > choice of phonetic representation for the unwritten vowel. Indeed, the > > choice of phonetic realization often changes from one dialect to
> > I think I can see where this is coming from, but you'd still have a > job to convince the poor alien that there's only one phonemic vowel. > > However, it might work if you change the claim to something like this: > > English has only one phonemic vowel. Since there is only one vowel, it > is not necessary to write it. > > However, English has a large number of consonant phonemes, most of > which are represented by digraphs, trigraphs, or more. The presence of > various consonantal phonemes causes the one vowel to take on a large > number of phonetic realisations. > > For example, the words "bat, bet, bit, bot, but" all end in /t/ but > the they have different initial consonants, which I will represent as > /ba/, /be/, /bi/, /bo/, /bu/ and which condition a different phonetic > realisation of the vowel between the initial and final consonant. > > Cheers, > -- > Philip Newton <philip.newton@g...>