Re: vowel harmony
|Date:||Tuesday, December 6, 2005, 1:12|
--- In email@example.com, caotope <johnvertical@H...> wrote:
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Tom Chappell wrote:
>> I am afraid that I do not understand enough about the details of
>> your questions, where they concern the differences between
>> phonemics and phonetics and phonology, to see how the following
>> examples answer them.
>> However, the following examples are among the reasons I thought
>> frontness/backness of vowel phonemes might have more than three
> <examples snup>
> The only vowels in your examples which were not strictly front,
> central or back, were /I/ and /U/. Yet I'd be surprized if their
> mid-centralization really were the defining feature. I'd expect the
> height difference and the laxness to be more essential there - maybe
> even the rounding (I know a guy who identified  as /U/). And
> since these two phonemes seem to always have more than one feature
> that distinguishes them from other vowel phonemes in the vicinity,
> the existence of *phonemic* front-centralness or back-centralness
> is sorta iffy. It's just never contrastive by itself.
> John Vertical
Yes; I think I see what you mean.
I believe I mentioned something like the following in one of my
former posts on this thread; and also, I think I agreed with one of
the other posters, to something also sort of like this.
As far as I can recall, the IPA handbook seems to suggest that,
although some languages do have four different frontness/backness
values of high or close vowels, none the handbook authors knew about
at the time they published it, completely elaborates every other
contrast through both of the intermediate values. For instance, one
language may have only an unrounded near-front close vowel and only a
rounded near-back close vowel, or some such thing.
I think our correspondent suggested something like that, only using
the tense v. lax, or advanced-tongue-root v. relaxed-tongue-root, or
some such distinction, instead of rounded vs. unrounded.
Now, just because the frontness/backness contrast is not the _only_
contrast in such cases; does that mean it is not a distinctive
feature, or not a phonemic one? I guess I don't understand. I am
much taller than my wife; I am also male, while she is female. The
difference in our height is not the only difference between us. I do
not think it is insignificant, however; from a distance, it is how
some people can tell us apart in certain lighting conditions.
Tom H.C. in MI