Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: [IE conlangs]

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Saturday, April 10, 1999, 5:43
Gary Shannon wrote:
> > As a non-linguist, and especially a non-phonologist, I wonder at all the > infinitesimal distinctions that are made concerning vowel sounds. English as > spoken in London, New Jersey, Bombay, and by people with any one of a number > of different "foreign" accents are all radically different in terms of the > exact nature of the vowel sounds. Yet each of these variations can be > easily understood by most English speakers. Such subtle nuances of > pronunciation seem, therefore, to have exactly zero information content. > (Other than to identify the nationality of the speaker.)
Well, vowel quality IS important in English. But, some variations aren't. It all depends on whether or not the difference sounds like a different vowel. In other words, replacing /I/ with /i/ can create some ambiguity. /sIt/ and /sit/ are very different words. Usually, most of these variations don't create confusion, due to redundancies. For instance, "/sit/ down" would be understood as being "/sIt/ down", because that's the only word that makes sense in that context. Confusion can sometimes arise, as with the Southern pronunciation /pIn/ which can be either "pin" or "pen", which, for someone not used to that /E/ --> /I/ before nasals rule, can create confusion, "Not that kind of /pIn/, a /pIn/ that you write with". But subtle nuances, as in nuances that don't result in different phonemes, you're right that there's zero information content. -- "It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father was hanged." - Irish proverb ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-name: NikTailor