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On Wed, 11 Jul 2007 09:24:03 +0100, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>And Rosta wrote:
>> So suppose the language ('Pentaphon') has 5 phonemes:
>>
>> /1/ [g, i]
>> /2/ [h, e]
>> /3/ [d, a]
>> /4/ [f, o]
>> /5/ [b, u]
[...]
>> -- Then a morpheme /123/ can be [ged] or [iha]. It's because of these
>> systematic equivalences that I think the 5-phoneme analysis is correct.

This is what I always assumed was going on with Plan B, though probably
through the influence of my own dabblings with binary conlangs of vaguely
similar flavour.  These had words of completely variable length, not
necessarily even whole numbers of hex digits.  But when it came time to
assign ways of reading bitstrings, my first couple attempts took the lazy
approach of just giving each n-bit string a pronunciation for some constant
n, in the first case n=7.  So each word had seven allomorphs, completely
phonetically unrelated and whose selectional criteria didn't depend on the
local phonetics but rather on the number of bits mod 7 preceding the word in
the utterance  The sandhi at word boundaries was frightful from a phonetic
point of view as well.  I'm sure this sort of thing would be completely
impossible to learn to do in real time in a human-spoken language.  I'm not
so sure about the alternations my and And's interpretation of Plan B
displays, but at the very least they wouldn't survive for long in the wild.  

Anyhow, on a closer reading of Prothero's essay, it does seem to be
unspecified whether Plan B exhibits this behaviour, probably as a
consequence of the inconsequentality of how the phonetic realization is done.  

>We are here, surely, dealing with a _morphophonemic_ level of analysis.
>Morphophonemes are normally symbolized with upper case letters as, e.g.
>English {najF} which some posit as the morphophoneme of English _knife ~
>knives_.
>
>Yes, in Pentaphone one could consider that the morphophoneme {123} may
>be be realized as [ged] or [iha].
>
>> If, on the other hand, morphemes in the language ('Bogstandard') were
>> made up of strings of CV syllables, composed of one of 5 onsets and one
>> of 5 nuclei, I would not defend a 5-phoneme analysis.
>
>Notwithstanding your correct analysis of Plan B, it is still true that
>the morphemes of Plan B do consist of strings of syllables. One can
>quite easily derive a BNF representation showing the generation of valid
>strings in Plan B.
>
>> So, if Plan B is like Pentaphon, then I insist I'm right and you're
>> wrong.
>
>As I say, it depends how one defines 'phoneme'. Jeff Prothero does not
>use the term in his description of his language. It is also clear to me
>that he was not particularly interested in how it was pronounced, but
>simply a gave a ad_hoc scheme whereby a string of four-bit groups could
>be given a human pronounceable sound, without bothering what this might
>imply for phonological or morphophonemic analysis.
>
>But IMO treating
> > /1/ [g, i]
> > /2/ [h, e]
> > /3/ [d, a]
> > /4/ [f, o]
> > /5/ [b, u]
>
>... as five _phonemes_ merits the satire of Jacques Guy's "Plan C."

What would you say, then, to the perspective that Pentaphon (and by
extension And's Plan B) has as its inventory five (sixteen) morphophones,
and that the phonemic level must be taken as secondary?  The alternations
are sufficiently unnaturalistic that Crystal's definition of phoneme just
breaks down, IMO.

An example in a similar spirit dropped on the ZBB a week or so back.  How
would you phonemically analyse spoken Solresol, in which the segmental
content of all utterances matches the regular expression
((do)|(re)|(mi)|(fa)|(sol)|(la)|(si))* ?  Seven morphophones or ten
phonemes, or something else?

Alex