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From:jesse stephen bangs <jaspax@...>
Date:Sunday, April 8, 2001, 18:13
Oskar Gudlaugsson sikayal:

See!  I renamed the thread.

> First, the English vowel system. I don't think I've ever written a letter > on the English vowel system on this list without getting protests :p This > language is just spoken by so many people in so many ways that it's no use > referring to the pronunciation of this and that word.
Yeah. It seems like about once a month that we get into some long discussion/argument about English phonetics.
> I overreached myself a bit when I made statements regarding Rumanian; I > wasn't entirely sure, but fired loose anyway, on it having an /M/ phoneme. > Turns out it's not quite true, but almost; it's /1/, that particular sound > I was thinking of (the i-circumflex). I try to disclaim my statements as > much as possible; please don't feel annoyed when I step on your toes with > falsehoods :)
<<blush>> Sorry for getting so irritated.
> And then there was the typology question. I have never been well convinced > by the rather flat-out statements on front-round vowels (which I > abbreviated "f-r") and back-unround (my abbr. "b-unr") being "highly > marked" in the world's vowel systems. As I said, with my own knowledge of > various vowel systems (which I recounted), those sounds wouldn't seem that > uncommon at all.
Hmmm. I can't remember which languages you mentioned, but I've heard that rounded front vowels are virtually unknown outside of the "Franco-Germanic language area," where they can be seen as a Sprachbund. I suppose that should be expanded to include Hungarian and Turkish (and other Finno-Ugric languages), but the point remains that any speaker of European languages would be vastly overexposed to rounded front vowels on the global scale. As for unrounded *non-low* back vowels ([A] is pretty common), English has them, and I hear that they also occur in Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean (?), which suggests that they may be a Sprachbund of East Asia. At any rate, in my experience they're even more rare than rounded front vowels. Jesse S. Bangs "If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time." --G.K. Chesterton


Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>