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Raymond Brown <ray.brown@F...> wrote:
>>>
>How universal does a sound have to be to be considered "IAL-friendly".
That's a matter I & others have discussed many, many times in the past on
this list and others. There is no single definitive set of sounds that
everyone will agree with. Most will accept the five cardinal vowels, the
consonants /p/, /t/, /k/, /s/, /m/, /n/ and /l/ which would emcompass the
Japanese /r/, but not trilled /r/ or the uvular varieties; most (but not
all!) would reject clicks, ejectives, front rounded vowels, back unrounded
vowels, diphthongs like [uj] and [iw] etc.
But when it comes to /b/, /d/, /g/ in opposition to the voiceless plosives,
other fricatives besides /s/, and affricates there is much diagreement. In
the end its a personal decision (and I don't want to enter into yet another
inconclusive discussion on 'the most IAL-friendly phoneme set').
<<<
very wise--although i would heartily subscribe to your above. i'm also thinking
of setting up a club to advocate /ts/ as the eighth magic consonant. :-)

>>>
In practice, languages like English, French and Arabic are widely used as
IALs despite their containing "non-IAL-friendly" sounds.
<<<
definitely worth meditating. the prestige of a lang often wipes out such
reservations. the current slow spreading of the french language in africa is
paradoxically fueled by the hard-line standardization of its orthography,
pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary there. also plenty of people can hear the
difference between various consonants but cannot execute them while being
convinced that they do alright. i remember my dad visiting me in japan. he
speaks fluent english with an excellent american accent. my japanese friends
would understand him ok but he couldn't understand a word of their english. i
had to translate. pretty embarassing, it was. what's more, japanese understand
their own landsmänner's english pronunciation quite well.:-) french kids can
tell [T] and [D] from [f], [z], etc. but they pronounce the former as the latter
and you would have a hard time to try and correct them without offending them.
my cutest memory in this regard was a dutch friend of mine who once proudly
asked me about her--extremely impressive--french: "don't you think i pronounce
[S] much better now?". "you do. but, erm, if i may--which [S] exactly?". "why,
the [S] in 'maison'"... so the bottom line is i think that an IAL doesn't need
to be easy to pronounce: it just has to keep its speakers confident that they
pronounce it ok.

>>>
The trouble with [G] is that it tends to become zero, or [j] before front
vowels. Many people, including myself, really do find it difficult to
pronounce [N] as a syllabic initial; I count it as non-IAL-friendly in this
position.
<<<
yeah, i had the same pb with N for a while. you really need to finally get rid
of all previous cultural prejudices, let your glot and nasal fossae completely
relax and eventually dare pronounce a proud&loud initial N as if--by european
standards--you were irretrievably speech-disabled :-)

Mathias
http://takatunu.free.fr/tunugram.htm