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Re: vowel harmony

From:tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 6, 2005, 1:12
--- In conlang@yahoogroups.com, caotope <johnvertical@H...> wrote:
> > --- In conlang@yahoogroups.com, 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 >> values. > > <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 [2] 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 >
Hi, John. 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