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On Oct 11, 2004, at 11:38 AM, Pascal A. Kramm wrote:

> On Mon, 11 Oct 2004 08:37:53 -0400, Yann Kiraly <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>> Is it possible for a conlang to have k,t,d,g,b but no p? And can it
>> lack
>> s,z,f,v,w and have th? Because, so far mine has these features. Also,
>> I
>> wanted to ask about the IPA signs for the following vowels:
>> ,,schwa,a in saw and for the consonant j as in jump.
>
> It's highly unlikely for a language to have a voiced consonant (like
> b) but
> not its unvoiced equivalent (p). So you'd better off with a lacking b.

Not so. When there are assymetries in voiced/voiceless pairs, it is the
labials which lack a voiceless segment and the velars which lack a
voiced one. A commonly encountered explanation for this is rooted in
the aerodynamics of voicing. Voicing depends on a steep pressure
gradient across the glottis--high pressure below it and low pressure
above it. This ensures sufficient airflow across the glottis to keep
the vocal folds vibrating. Since a stop is produced by blocking
airflow, the pressure will quickly equalize; this results in the
cessation of voicing. To maintain voicing during stop closure,
supralayrngeal pressure must be bled off somehow. This can be done in
one of three ways. 1) change the manner of articulation to a
continuant, 2) open the nasal port and allow air to flow out through
the nasal cavity, or 3) allow the supralaryngeal cavity to expand. This
is easier for labials since the cheeks are flexible and expandable.
With velar stops you don't get expansion of the cheeks to help bleed
off supralaryngeal pressure, so the result is that voiced velar stops
are much shorter in duration than their voiceless counterparts (true
for other places of articulation as well), become continuants, or are
absent altogether. For example, Dutch had a voiced velar stop
historically, but it became a fricative (which was later devoiced in
many varieties).

Dirk
--
Dirk Elzinga
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"I believe that phonology is superior to music. It is more variable and
its pecuniary possibilities are far greater." - Erik Satie