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The most common sounds (Was: Re: backwards conlanging)

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 28, 2000, 4:15
On Mon, Nov 27, 2000 at 10:16:29PM -0500, Yoon Ha Lee wrote:
> I have a stupid boring /i/ /e/ /a/ /o/ /u/ vowel system, with two > diphthongs. I guess I'll have to figure out something more complicated > that could've simplified down to the 5-vowel system.
[snip] Hmm, this gets me thinking... I wonder what are the most common sounds that are found in almost every language? From the few languages that I know, it seems that the following sounds are most common: [a] [i] [o] [u] [ai] (or [aj]) [au] [j] [w] [b] [d] [t] [k] [h] [s] [l] It seems to me that usually what makes a language's phonetic inventory unique is the different set of fricatives/approximants/trills employed. Seems that languages diverge more on those sounds than on the simpler stops and unrounded vowels. T -- Why is the sea always restless? Its bed is too rocky to sleep on.