>> My own view, for what it is worth, is that all stops
>> apart from plain voiceless and plain voiced 
>> should be kept out of the initial IAL, and for no
>> reason except this is the dominant pattern in the 
>> creoles, which were originally formed as regional
>> IALs (pidgins).

Jens Wilkinson replied,   Thu, 16 Mar 2006 20:44:24 -0800

> My concern here, again, is that we don't have the
> power to legislate. What matters isn't what people
> should do, but rather what they will do. If it turns
> out that people have relatively little difficulty
> understanding each other in situations where the stops
> have different values, then I'm more than happy to
> support a system with more than one stop series.
> Obviously, I'd very much prefer such a system
> personally, as it creates a richer phonology and also
> seems more aesthetically pleasing. My concern is
> purely, what will happen in real life? Unfortunately,
> I haven't done enough research in this area. 

Well, don't you agree that the ubiquity of two stop series in creoles, and the absence of single stop 
series, is very strong evidence in itself that two stop series don’t cause confusion and 

I think the explantion is somewhat akin to the following phenomenon, which we all must have 

“Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a 
wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can 
be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos 
not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

In other words, associated contextual clues tend to remove any ambiguity. In the case of 
phonemes, the context of the words containing them, and the corrective nature of human 
response, tend to remove any misunderstanding.

Similarly for aircraft communications: all manner of contextual clues - e.g. the plane is flying over 
France, the name of a city is being referred to, the flight data is indicative - will make it irrelevant 
that the pilot is referring to “Baris”. 

In any event, such an occurrence would be unlikely. Just because a particular ethnic group tends to 
use a restricted phonology doesn’t mean that all members of it will do likewise. It’s a common 
observation that those determined to educate themselves and broaden their horizons learn to use 
new speech sounds readily enough. I think the international culture associated the IAL will only 
encourage this. 

> Very interesting perspective, though I suspect that in
> the future we are going to have increasingly
> multicultural poor and multicultural rich groups.

That would be a change; up to now it is market-dominant minorities that have made most of the 
running. (BTW You missed my oblique reference to Chinese laundries - not too surprisingly - 
they’re probably extinct by now.)

> But be as it may, it seems undeniable that Chinese will be a growing factor. 
> Maybe we should just adopt a stop series with aspirated/unaspirated 
> distinctions, and get it over with...

No! That is just what wouldn’t work - for the same reason that Basic English failed to achieve its 
intended purpose, and all attempts to reform English have gone nowhere. If people want Chinese 
they will go for the language itself, not an ersatz lingo that is neither Chinese nor a satisfactory 


Antony Alexander