Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Pronounciation tolerance (WAS: [IE conlangs])

From:FFlores <fflores@...>
Date:Friday, April 9, 1999, 23:03
Gary Shannon <reboot@...> wrote:
> > English, at least, would appear to be very tolerant of variety in vowel > sounds. Are other languages this tolerant, or are there languages in which > slight mispronunciations would confuse the meaning of a sentence? >
As someone else posted, it's logical to suppose that the larger the phonemic inventory of a language, the larger the possibility of confusion when mispronouncing a sound. But redundancy is probably adjusted in all languages so that that's not a real problem. As an L2 English speaker, I'm always surprised when hearing different pronunciations of words -- but I guess these happen between dialects, not so much within the same dialect.
> > Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is that it seems to me that any > candidate for a global language must be a some language which is extremely > tolerant of various types of "mispronunciation". How do languages other > than English stack up in this regard?
Spanish (Rioplatense), having a small phonemic inventory compared to those of English and even of Castilian Spanish, allows for a small degree of variation that sounds "right", but you can certainly make yourself understood even if you mispronounce very common sounds. I mean, you can pronounce /s/ as [s], [z], [T], [S], or /b/ as [b], [B], [v], etc. and the worst problem you'll have is that some people may believe you have a speech defect or you're a pedant. As for vowels, the degree of freedom is smaller; for example, native speakers usually replace English /&/ by /a/ or /e/, but not consistently, and Spanish doesn't have the "easy way out for vowels" that English schwa represents, so I'd say pronunciation of vowels in Spanish *is* important. But mispronouncing/mishearing a vowel tends not to be catastrophic in Spanish, because words are more distinct than in English -- for a given pattern, say CVCV, there are less possible words, even taking into account that there are fewer vowels to begin with. --Pablo Flores * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * The Universe is not user friendly. Kelvin Throop