Quoting Ray Brown <[log in to unmask]>: > On Sunday, November 7, 2004, at 08:50 , Andreas Johansson wrote: > > > The lack of an IPA sign need only mean that > > no language distinguishes phonologically from apico-alveolars, and since, > > I > > believe, both retroflex-alveolar distinctions and lateral fricatives are > > relatively rare typologically, the lack of such languages might simply be > > due > > to combinatorics. > > Yes - but I thought IPA was meant to provide symbols for _phonetic_ > representation as well as phonological representation. > > Obviously the blacked-out cells in the IPA place of articulation/manner of > articulation matrix mean that the sound that would in theory fill the cell > is in fact physically impossible. I have assumed that the empty cells > which are not blacked-out were sounds that were theoretically possible but > not attested in any known natlang. Is this assumption mistaken? Sort-of. To have a separate IPA symbol a phone is supposed to be _contrastive_ in some natlang. Now, there are some failures to achieve that (Tamil's distinction 'tween alveolars and dentals can't be captured without recourse to diacritics, and I rather doubt that all the signs for mid-central vowels are strictly necessary for achieving that aim), but that's the basic idea. Andreas PS Incidentally, does anyone know if there's a lang contrasting /F/ against both /m/ and /n/?