And Rosta wrote:
> Joerg & Ray concur that Plan B does not have 16 phonemes with 
> consonantal and vocalic allophones:
> To my eyes, the most sensible analysis of Plan B is the 16-phoneme 
> dual-allophony one. It's the analysis you get if you apply basic 
> principles of contrastiveness; 

In the words John McEnroe (with similar intonation & gestures): "You can 
not be serious!"

>and the alternatives that Joerg & Ray put 
> forward fail to account for the systematic equivalence of consonants and 
> vowel phonemes.


Plan B has strings of CV, which is not exactly uncommon. The Polynesian 
languages do this all the time. I could easily write Hawaiian, Samoan or 
any of the others, using only consonant symbols. All we need to know is 
how these symbols are pronounced in the odd numbered positions (i.e. 
when used to denote vowels).

OK - Plan B is a little different in that:
- the last item in a string can be a C, i.e. the final syllable may be 
CVC. But I bet there are examples of natlangs that have the same feature.
- the number of consonant phonemes and vowel phonemes (if, as you 
obviously are, you count the r+V as separate phones) is the same.

Let us suppose we have a natlang with only six consonant phonemes:
	    Bilabial Alveolar 	Velar
Voiceless 	p 	t 	k
Voiced 		v 	r 	g

Such a language, we know, does exist. It's called Rotakas. The voiceless 
consonants are plosives, the voiced may be realized as voiced fricatives 
or nasals according to dialect (the 'voiced alveolar' is often realized 
as a lateral or flap).

Suppose our language has the classical five vowels (as Rotakas in fact 
has), but also includes an unrounded high central vowel, CXS /1/ (IPA 
/ɨ/). We could represent our language, let us call it 'Rotakas B', quite 
unambiguously with just six symbols, namely:
    Consonant    Vowel
P    /p/        /a/
T    /t/        /e/
K    /k/        /i/
B    /v/        /o/
R    /r/        /u/
G    /g/        /ɨ/

Thus, e.g. BRT KGRP PGGTT = /vut igup agɨte/

Does that mean, then, that 'Rotakas B' has only six phonemes with 

I submit that:
a. Any field worker who gave 'Rotakas B' such an orthography would be 
considered a tad weird.
b. Any phonologist that posited a six phoneme inventory for the 
language, with each phoneme having a consonantal and a vocalic allophone 
would be laughed out of court.

Therefore, I say: "You can not be serious!"

Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
 > .............  *Underlyingly*, a Plan B
 > utterance is a *stream of bits* which is segmented into 4-bit units, 
and it is
 > these *bit patterns* that are the fundamental building blocks of the 
 > The consonants and vowels are as secondary to the language as are the 
 > we use to write English secondary to the English language.

Yes, this is true, but if are talking about its *phonology* then we 
must, surely, deal with the consonants and vowels. At a phonological 
level, the underlying bit-stream is IMO irrelevant.

'Rotakas B' can readily be expressed as a stream of bits in a similar 
manner to plan B. True, 'Rotakas B' would use only six out of the eight 
possible three-bit patters. But let us suppose our eccentric 
field-worker moves on and finds a possibly (tho not not necessarily) 
related group of indigenous people who have a language with eight 
vowels, similar to the Turkish inventory. We now have /i e y ø ɨ a u o/.
He finds this language, which we may call 'Rotakas C' also has eight 
consonant phonemes; besides the six of 'Rotakas B' it also has a 
voiceless and voiced pair of palatals, thus:
	    Bilabial Alveolar 	Palatal	Velar
Voiceless 	p 	t 	  c	k
Voiced 		v 	r 	  j	g

Our eccentric field worker notices that he could use octal numbers in 
order to encode the language, but decides not to. However he cannot 
resist giving the eight bit patterns thus:
000        P      /p/    /a/
001        T      /t/    /e/
010        C      /c/    /i/
011        K      /k/    /o/
100        V      /v/    /u/  [Now ain't that a coincidence!]
101        R      /r/    /ɨ/
110        J      /j/    /ø/
111        G      /g/    /y/

So we could have: TJRGV RCPT GKKVG /tøryv ɨcat ykovy/

Does the fact that the eight written consonant symbols of 'Rotakas C' 
can each be individually mapped to a unique three-bit stream make the 
slightest difference to way we examine the phonology? IMHO it makes not 
an iota of difference.

I submit once again that a field worker who gave such an orthography to 
'Rotakas C' would be thought a tad weird, and that any phonologist who 
posited eight phonemes, each with a consonantal & vocalic allophone, 
would be laughed out of court.

 > Yet, I wouldn't
 > call the bit patterns "phonemes" because they are not domains in the 
 > phonetic space.

Nor would I call the bit patterns "phonemes"; more significantly, 
perhaps, *Jeff Prothero, the author of Plan B, does _not_ call them 

Let me quote the relevant parts of his description of the language:
{quote 1}
The proposed syntax consists of:
* An alphabet.  "bcdf ghjk lmnp stvz" is suggested, but the
   choice is not critical.
* A pronunciation scheme which makes all sequences of
   letters equally pronounceable, thus decoupling the rest
   of the language design from the details of the human
   vocal tract.
{/quote 1}

{quote 2}
(It is
handy to have the alphabet size be a power of two.
Eight letters would be less concise, thirty-two would
be tough to map onto the standard twenty-six char
character set. To encode an arbitrary
bitstream efficiently, we use these sixteen letters
as a hex encoding according to the following scheme.
(The capital letters in the right two columns
give the intended pronunciation of each letter
when used as a vowel and when used as a consonant.)
{/quote 2}

{quote 3}
the particular letters and pronunciations
chosen don't matter much, and might be changed
for a non-European audience.
{/quote 3}

IMO the last ought to changed to "a non-North-America audience." it is 
quite clear that Jeff considers the vowels of _fought_ and _prop_ to be 
the same, which they ain't in Britain nor AFAIK elsewhere in the 
anglophone world outside of North America. But that is a small point; 
the point is *the particular letters and pronunciations chosen don't 
matter much.* This, basically, is what quote 1 also says.

In quote 2 it is quite clear that Jeff is using "sixteen letters
as a hex encoding" (which is why I have written more than once that IMO 
it might have been better simply to use the standard hex digits). 
Further, Jeff writes: "the right two columns give the intended 
pronunciation of each letter _when used as a vowel_ and _when used as a 
consonant_" [emphasis mine].

There is mention here or, indeed, any where else in Jeff's article about 
phonemes. Surely by writing "when used as a vowel" and "when used as a 
consonant" he means that each hex letter has _two different uses_. To my 
simple mind, that surely implies used as two different phonemes.

So at this stage I submit:
- that any phonologist that gave 'Rotakas C' just eight phonemes, each 
with a vocalic and unrelated consonantal allophone, would be laughed out 
of court,
- there is nothing in Jeff Prothero's article that states that Plan B 
has just 16 phonemes, each with a vocalic and unrelated consonantal 

So where does the notion that Plan B has 16 phonemes come from? To the 
best of my knowledge it is due to Jacques Guy's satirical 'Plan C' in 
which he wrote:
The Plan-B language -- I'll call it Bee for short -- Bee, then, has 16
er... phonemes, because sixteen is a power of two, which makes it
computationally desirable. Each phoneme has two allophones, one of
which is a vowel, or a diphthong, or the same preceded by "r", the
other a consonant. I say: jolly good idea!  Indeed, it's like the
author says: "By providing both a vowel and a consonant pronunciation
for each letter, and using them alternately, we can pronounce
arbitrary strings of letters without difficulty". Brilliant. And I,
poor sod, who thought a strict CV(V) language would do it!

"The Plan-B language has 16 er... phonemes" - Why "er..."? Because 
surely Jacques Guy knows quote well that they are not phonemes. His 
"jolly good idea!" and "brilliant" are surely sarcastic. Indeed, he 
makes it clear earlier in his article that he 'taking the mickey' out of 

Sarcastic too, is his "And I, poor sod, who thought a strict CV(V) 
language would do it!"

Of course a strict CV language would achieve the same result, i.e. 
allowing a bitstream to be mapped to a sequence of consonant + vowel. 
Jeff Prothero could easily have given his 16 bit patters a simple 
syllabic value. Yes, a language with only 16 CV syllables is a bit low 
on vowels and consonants. But in my email of Monday, 19th Sept. 2005, i 
showed have the 16 bits could easily be mapped to a system of 24 
syllables; in my page
I give an alternative system.

However, Jeff's main concern is that the inventory symbols be a power of 
2. A syllabary of 32 CV syllables is reasonable, and one of 64 even better.

But, some will say, bit patterns of 5 or 6 bits are (excuse the pun) a 
bit untidy. Jeff's 4-bit patters are exactly half a byte (or 1 
'nibble'); this is neat as we have exactly two symbols per byte. OK 
then, we'll have syllabary of 256 CV syllables - this will give us a 
much richer inventory of consonants and vowels; it could also meet 
Jeff's concern that "thirty-two would be tough to map onto the standard 
twenty-six char character set."

How so, you ask? If 32 is too many, surely 256 is way over the top! But 
consider De Kolovrat's system of mapping the 100 decimal numerals from 
00 through to 99 into pronounceable CV syllables. One could fairly 
easily create a similar system for mapping the hex values 00 through to 
FF into pronounceable CV syllables; this even byte value would map into 
a unique CV syllable.

There are all sorts of possibilities, indeed, whereby a bit-stream could 
be mapped in CV syllables.

 > So, how to analyse Plan B correctly?  In the analysis of the spoken
 > representation you get 16 syllable-initial consonants, 8 vowels and
 > diphthongs, and another consonant /r/ that may or may not be inserted
 > between the syllable-initial consonant and the vowel.  Ray and I said 
 > the 16 vowels and r/vowel combos are not allophones of the 16 consonants
 > because they are completely different sounds.  You say they are.


I repeat: In 'Rotakas C' we have:
000        P      [p]    [a]
001        T      [t]    [e]
010        C      [c]    [i]
011        K      [k]    [o]
100        V      [v]    [u]
101        R      [r]    [ɨ]
110        J      [j]    [ø]
111        G      [g]    [y]

So we could have: TJRGV RCPT GKKVG [tøryv ɨcat ykovy]

And says that "the alternatives that Joerg & Ray put forward fail to 
account for the systematic equivalence of consonants and vowel 
phonemes." In what possible way has 'Rotakas C' any less "systematic 
equivalence of consonants and vowel phonemes" than Plan B?

Must 'Rotakas C' then be analyzed as having eight phonemes, each with a 
consonant and vowel allophones? Indeed, you're own statement "systematic 
equivalence of consonants and vowel phonemes" surely implies that there 
are vowel and consonant _phonemes_, not vowel and consonant allophones.

Jacques Guy said of Plan B: "'Twas like waving a red rag at a frog (a 
bullfrog) and I snapped at the bait merrily." Certainly And's letter to 
be like a waving a red rag and maybe I snapped too merrily at the bait, 
but, once again in Mr McEnroe's words, intonation & gestures: "You can 
not be serious!"

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Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
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