Javier wrote:
> >Yes, yes - but not all the 317 languages have the same importance, not
> >have roughly the same number of speakers.  To base arguments on raw
> >statistics taken from the 317 languages is at best fairly meaningless, at
> >worst misleading.  We must take the numbers of actual speakers into
> >acoount.  To give, say, Chinese the same statistical value as !Xu is just
> >barmy.
>If you want a language to be "as neutral as possible", you
>shouldn't consider that much that there are languages "more
>important" than others.

I think this is a new one - an IAList who puts treating languages the same
above treating people the same.

> >[snip]
> >>> for the liquids (/l/ and /r/), 96% of the languages used at least
> >>> one, 72% used more.
> >
> >Not helpful.  Somewhere about a quarter of the world's population speak a
> >language with only one.
>And about two thirds of the world's population speak
>languages which do distinguish l/r. So why granting
>that privilege to that quarter and not granting a
>similar privilege to the rest?

Were I you, I'd stop worrying so much about fairness and take a more
pragmatic approach.

>Then, let's take the sound inventories of those most
>spoken languages and see what they will find new in
>the chart proposed:
>Chinese: will have to learn consonant r and to extend
>the voicing contrast from their sh/r pair to the six
>pairs of the IAL. Also to use ng initially.
>English: will have to learn all the vowels except the
>schwa and to use ng and h in any position.

Would you care to specify the exact prescriptionist values of the Futurese
vowels? English (many varieties thereof, at leat) has sounds clsoe enough to
each of the classical five vowels.

The vowels in eg "pin", "bed", "far", "spot", "pull", in my RPoid
pronunciation (I'm sure natives with different dialects can offer similar
lists), are close enough to the classical five that I find it very hard to
believe that speakers of a /i e a o u @/ language would recognize 'em
(altho' of course they may think I've got a funny accent).

> >>>Where you're most likely to encounter languages that merge
> >>> L/R is around the Time Date Line, that is, in parts of East Asia
> >>> and Oceania, and the speakers of languages from other areas ins-
> >>> tantly identify the merging of L/R as a local habit of that geo-
> >>> graphical region.
> >
> >China is actually a not insignificant part of East Asia - and a
> >distance from the Time Date Line.  But the same merging is, in fact, not
> >any means unknown among native African languages.
> >
> >[snip]
> >>> So, as you can see, when designing the sound system of an IAL it
> >>> is not possible that you take into account such local habits of
> >>> pronounciation
> >
> >Sorry, writing off the speech habits of the Chinese who form not an
> >inconsiderable part of the earth's population as "local habits of
> >pronunciation" seems to me very patronizing.
>That considerable part of today's Earth's population (those
>figures may change in the future) lives in a very localized
>part of the world.

China's got a quite substantial fraction of the planets population for
pretty much all of recorded history, so I rather doubt that is about to
change. But since you seem to prefer democracy of languages to democracy of
speakers, that's a pretty moot point.


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