At 1:45 pm +0300 26/4/02, Y.Penzev wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Christian Thalmann <[log in to unmask]>
>Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2002 10:38 PM
>> > But the problem is that nobody uses it that way, so there must be a
>reason. In
>> > my opinion, [e] is more "simple" than [E].

Eh?  They're both simple sounds.

>> Well, /e/ is tense and thus requires more articulation than the lax
>> /E/.  Languages who have both sounds will usually place /e/ in the
>> stressed or long syllables, while it slackens into /E/ in less
>> important places.
>I don't quite understand what you both mean under the terms "tense" and
>"lax" (they seem rather Eurocentric),

Hardly - the tense~lax opposition occurs in the vowel harmony system of
Igbo, Efik and quite a few other _African_ languages!

Contrasts such as this are viewed as particulary important in distinctive
feature theories of phonology; and these theories aim at _universally_
valid distinctions.

But I do agree that "Languages who have both sounds will usually place /e/
in the stressed or long syllables, while it slackens into /E/ in less
important places." a sweeping generalization which IMO probably doesn't hold up.

At 1:59 pm +0200 26/4/02, Christophe Grandsire wrote:
>I'd even say "Anglocentric". The only time I ever saw them used in French was
>to describe English phonology :)) .

It's also applicable to German and Classical Latin, inter alia.  At least,
in the case of C.L. we cannot, of course, be 100% sure, but it makes sense
of developments in Vulgar Latin & Proto-Romance if Latin short vowel were
more retracted than the tenser long vowels.

But I agree that the generalization quoted above is indeed 'anglocentric'.
Italian is a living example which shows quite the opposite.  The lower
vowels /E/ and /O/ may occur _only_ in stressed syllables, while /e/ and
/o/ occur both in stressed and in 'less important places'.

>.............As I explained, I don't find anything
>specially lax to [I], nor anything specially tensed to [i]. And I find the
>latter much easier to produce than the former.

Probably because French has [i], but not [I]  :))

>But as you know, difficulty in
>language is always relative.

Quite so.

The French pronounce all vowels, except [@], clearly and with equal vigor
and degree tension.

In English, [i:] (even tho many varieties of English tend to slightly
diphthongnize it as [ij]) is close to the IPA cardinal [i].  But [I] is not
merely lower in the mouth, but also less fronted.  The tongue is more
retracted towards the centered, i.e. the muscles of the tongue are less
tensed than they are when we say [i:].

Some phoneticians, I believer, prefer the term 'retracted' rather than
'lax'; but I forget how they term 'tense(d)'.

> but as I mentioned before, in
>> Ukrainian the situation is vice versa: you get [E] in stressed
>> syllables,
>> and [e] in unsterssed.
>That's a strange one!

Not at all.  In Italian /E/ is never found in unstressed syllables; /E/
must always be stressed, while /e/ may be used in both stressed and
unstressed.   The same applies to /O/ (stressed only), and /o/ which may
occur in stressed and unstressed syllables.

>But it's nice :)) .

Of course, that's why the Italians do it  :)))

>> > And then, of course, there's English.  It has /E/ as a phoneme, but
>> > /e/ only in the diphthong /eI/.

Umm - that depends on one's phonemic analysis of English.

According to some, the two sounds are _phonemically_ /e/ and /ej/
respectively: "get" /get/, "gate" /gejt/

Others render them phonemically as: "get" /gEt/, "gate" /get/

Indeed, to have /e/ as a _phoneme_ occurring only in a single diphthong and
nowhere else seems a bit perverse to me.  It looks like a confusion between
phonetic and phonemic notation.

>> Which is pronounced [EI] or even [Ey] in some dialects...

[Ey] ?? not in any English I've heard.

>Or simply [e] :)) .

Yes indeed - [e(:)] is the norm in Highland Scots, in much of northern
England and in Wales.