En réponse à John Leland : >On Japanese having "r but no l" while other Asian languages have only "l" >my observation (and my impression is that more qualified experts agree) is >that this distinction is largely a matter of the way the languages are >romanized. Listening to Japanese pronounciation the sound romanized >as r is more like l at least in many contexts. Not to me. The Japanese r is just an alveolar flap (and the Japanese people I've met agree with me) which is no different from the Spanish single 'r' between two vowels. Since they don't have a l, they replace it with the alveolar flap (the closest thing to an alveolar lateral they have), but that doesn't make it any l-like. And I listen daily to enough Japanese (between songs and anime) to have quite an informed opinion on that. > Several Asian languages >(including Korean and Japanese)seem not to treat l and r as separate >sounds--for which reason my Korean and Japanese students have great >difficulty distinguishing the spelling use >of r and l in English. Hangul in Korean has one character for the r/l >sound which can create odd results. In transcribing English loanwords they >also use the same character for b and v--I recall seeing from the bus a >Korean shop sign with pink Valentine hearts and a word I mentally >transliterated as "roba roba"--then I realized it was really" love, love." Same in Japanese. They don't have /v/, so old borrowings render it by /b/ instead (Spanish does that too). Except that since then, Japanese people have, through borrowings, introduced the voiceless bilabial fricative (that they had only as an allophone of /h/ in front of /u/) in front of other vowels than /u/, and, seemingly by comparison, introduced a (still rare) *voiced* bilabial fricative to render /v/ in new borrowings (this voiced bilabial fricative is usually written with the kana for 'u' with the 'voiced' sign - the " on the top right-hand corner - followed by a small kana for the following vowel). Currently, this /B/ and /b/ tend to compete in borrowings (/B/ is used when the Japanese want to be more "precise" in their borrowing), so that you get interchangeable pairs, one with /b/ and one with /B/. Christophe Grandsire. http://rainbow.conlang.free.fr You need a straight mind to invent a twisted conlang.