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147707Re: Brr (was: Re: A few questions about linguistics concerning my new project)

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  • T. A. McLeay
    Aug 2, 2007
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      Philip Newton wrote:
      > On 8/2/07, Henrik Theiling <theiling@...> wrote:
      >> Mark J. Reed writes:
      >>> in parts of Greenland the /u/ phoneme seems to be merging into /i/.
      >> Fascinating. Do you have some pointers for further reading? A
      >> two-vowel system of /1/ vs. /a/ would be very interesting.
      >
      > I read somewhere about a natlang whose (phonemic) vowels seemed to be
      > distinguished only by height (and not by backness; don't remember
      > about rounding). Such a lang could conceivably have phonemic /1/ vs
      > /a/ (though phonetically, I don't know what the allophonic range could
      > be -- conceivably rather wide).
      >
      > Unfortunately, I don't remember details.

      Caucasian languages (which is, I think, a geographical and not genetic
      classification). Ubykh is the standard example: the WP article on the
      topic at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubykh_phonology observes that it
      has the largest consonant inventory of any language that doesn't use
      clicks, but has only two contrastive vowels: /ə/ and /a/ (and possibly
      also /a:/, tho it is also analysable as /aa/). In practice, however, the
      vowels [e i o u a: e: i: o: u:] also occur as allophones conditioned by
      palatalised and labialised coarticulations in consonants or the platal
      and labio-velar glides themselves.

      Scary, huh?

      --
      Tristan.
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