On Mon, 23 Oct 2000, Yoon Ha Lee wrote:

> I'm working my way through an introductory phonology/phonetics book and
> trying to overhaul the phonology of Chevraqis.  What I have, tentatively,
> is (using Kirschenbaum):
> Vowels:
> i u
> E O
>  a
> Consonants:
> (p) b   t d        c   k
>  m      n
>         *
> (f) v   s z  S Z   C   x
> Clusters can only be of the form consonant-plus-*, or /tS/ or /dZ/.
> [b] manifests as /p/ in word-final position, /b/ elsewhere.
> [v] manifests as /f/ in word-final position, /v/ elsewhere.
> (I *think* this rule makes some amount of sense but I'm not entirely
> confident.)
> (Having heard /c/ I have become rather enamored of the sound).

Yoon, you've confused the symbols / / with [ ].  The brackets [ ] are used
for *phonetic* IPA transcriptions, while the slashes / / are used with
*phonemic* transcriptions.  So you meant to say "/b/ manifests as [p] in
word-final position, [b] elsewhere."

> I've honestly been worrying about this whole symmetry of sound systems
> business.  I keep staring at the IPA chart and I can't figure out how to
> justify the palato-alveolars /S/ and /Z/.
> Also, (p) b, t d, k
> is pretty unsymmetric, but I really, *really* dislike /g/ aesthetically
> and have been running around in circles trying to figure out if it makes
> sense to not include /g/.  How strict/common is this symmetry principle?
> I'm almost prepared to lose all the voiced versions of sounds, but I
> wanted to keep /t/ and /d/, /s/ and /z/, and /S/ and /Z/ for contrasted
> but easy-to-remember inflections for dynamic-vs.-static conjugations (the
> only thing changing in the inflection would be the voicing).  Can I get
> away with this?

Certainly.  The set /t d/ is pretty universal and I don't know of one
without the other, but otherwise you've obeyed typology
certainly.  Studies have shown that in languages with only one bilabial
stop, the bilabial stop is always [b], and in languages with only one
velar stop, that stop is [k].  (Standard caveats about statistical nature
of typology apply.)  So you're great.  Many languages also have stops
without corresponding fricatives or vice versa--witness English /T D/
without any corresponding stops.  I think your scheme is quite natural and

> A question on transcription, for those who've made it so far:  I'm
> contemplating using these Romanizations:
> tj for /c/
> sj for /C/

Ick.  Remind me, why not use {c} for /c/ and {k} for /k/?

> sh for /S/
> zh for /Z/
> I think the latter two are fairly "easy" for an English-speaker to figure
> out, but I'm not really sure what to do with /c/ and /C/, especially
> since I'm using "ch" for /tS/.
> Help?

Jesse S. Bangs [log in to unmask]
"It is of the new things that men tire--of fashions and proposals and
improvements and change.  It is the old things that startle and
intoxicate.  It is the old things that are young."
-G.K. Chesterton _The Napoleon of Notting Hill_