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phonemic confusion (was: kinsi rorotan:...)

From:Pablo David Flores <pablo-flores@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 16, 2002, 13:54
Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...> writes:

> > I do have a double change related to this in one of the sister > > languages > > of my Senu Yivokuchi: [x] > [s] / _[+front] AND [s] > [x] / _[+back]. > > If those changes occured simultaneously, wasn't there a period where confusions > were possible?
You mean due to homonymy? Well, of course. And this was not the worst. The Itrumi family, of which Senu Yivokuchi and other six or seven languages are part, springs from a phonetically complicated ancient language, and they've all suffered the loss and merging of many sounds. Senu Yivokuchi is one of the most changed, having conflated nine vowels into five and four series of stops (voiced, unvoiced, voiced 'aspirated' and unvoiced aspirated) into just two (voiced and unvoiced, both non-aspirated). This produced a lot of homonymy, which was solved in part (I think) by redundant object incorporation (I don't know if this is a suitable name, but it's what happens in Mandarin when you say, for example, |chi fan| 'eat food' instead of simply |chi| 'eat'), and, for nouns, compounding. For example: /wak/ 'jewel' > /wak lIhah/ 'jewel of value' > /waklI/ > /wakre/ /wak_h/ 'projectile' > /wak_h pExr/ 'projectile thrown' > */wafexr/ > /waxar/ (the various shortenings are not regular; *this form is a hypothetical middle stage, and the second /a/ in /waxar/ is an 'echo' of the first one, the underlying form being //wafxr// > //waxr//). --Pablo Flores "The future is all around us, waiting, in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain." -- G'Kar quoting G'Quon, in "Babylon 5"