Alex Fink wrote:
> 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, 

Yes, I don't think either I or And or Jrg disagree that that is 
essentially what is going on. The difference is on the _interpretation_ 
of what is happening.

I think the morpheme really should be given as {123} - the use of the 
slashes denotes phonemes, and on a *purely phonological* level, I fail 
to see how, e.g. [d] and [a] can be considered allophones of a phoneme 
/3/. This looks to me like phonological nonsense.

> 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. 

Do you mean words or phonemes? The phonemes of Plan B can be of 
different length, but they must be a whole number of hex digits. Your 
system sounds rather more intricate   :)

> 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 

Seven, eh? That makes Plan B's two look very paltry   ;)

But that is the point, isn't it? The allomorphs are completely 
phonetically unrelated.

> 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.  

I'm sure you're right. While Plan B makes life very easy for a computer 
programmer, I do not think it would survive long "in the wild," as you 
put it.

> 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.  

Yes, indeed. It is fairly clear, I think, that he does not put any great 
importance on how the thing is pronounced. Cf.:
* An alphabet.  "bcdf ghjk lmnp stvz" is suggested, but the
   choice is not critical.
* A pronunciation scheme which makes all sequences of
   letters equally pronouncable, thus decoupling the rest
   of the language design from the details of the human
   vocal tract.

The scheme I give does exactly that. I have given an alphabet of sixteen 
letters, namely: w y g k r l z s n  d t  m b p
I have given a pronunciation scheme which makes all sequences of letters 
equally pronounceable. See:

The difference is, of course, that my scheme will not give rise to 
arguments about what are and are not phonemes (with the possible 
exception of the status of [j] and [w]), and all morphemes have one shape.

>>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 ~
>>Yes, in Pentaphone one could consider that the morphophoneme {123} may
>>be be realized as [ged] or [iha].
>>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) 

It's And's Pentaphon & Jeff Prothero's Plan B    ;)

> has as its inventory five (sixteen) morphophones,
> and that the phonemic level must be taken as secondary?  

I would say I need to think more about this.

The concept "phoneme" is an abstraction and not all linguists accept the 
phonemic theory or phonemic analysis. But it generally works well enough 
for the familiar European languages and we use it as a matter of 
convenience on this list and most of the time we more or less understand 
what each other means. I think the phoneme concept is a useful tool for 
the phonological analysis of very many languages.

However, the concept 'morphophoneme' seems to me a further level of 
abstraction. While most on this list would, I think, happily go along 
with the phonemic transcriptions /naif/ and /naivz/, I'm less certain 
that everyone would be so happy with {naiF}{Z}; and there are problems 
with this sort of approach. What morphophoneme are involved in 'mouse ~ 

> The alternations
> are sufficiently unnaturalistic that Crystal's definition of phoneme just
> breaks down, IMO.

This is the point, isn't it? Plan B is is too 'unnatural'. I used 
Crystal's definition for the sake of convenience. But I hold that by any 
classical definition of phoneme, pairing [a] and [d] as variants of a 
phoneme /3/ just doesn't make sense.

But on reading further on morphophonemics, as it's generally called in 
the US, or morphophonology, which seems to be term preferred this side 
of the Pond, I read that "systematic phonemics" is the preferred term in 
more recent generative theories. I also find that those who adopt the 
'systematic phonemics' approach, distinguish between "systematic 
phonemes" and the 'autonomous' phonemes of traditional phonemic phonology.

I know that And adopts (and I apologize if I am wrong about this) a 
generative approach to grammar; he also knows, I think, that I am 
skeptical about the concepts of 'deep structure' and 'generative 
grammar.' I suspect that And may well adopt the concepts of 'generative 
phonology'; I do not. I think that therein lies the difference between 
our ways of looking at Plan B.

I would have thought it was obvious that all along I have been speaking 
in terms of 'autonomous' phonemes of traditional phonemic phonology. I 
am fairly certain now that And is talking in terms of 'systematic 

In the case of Plan B, there _is_ a deep structure (tho not very deep) - 
the bit-stream. In Plan B, the surface phonology is generated by the bit 
stream. The first four bits (quartet) generate a consonant, the next a 
vowel, then a consonant, then a vowel, etc. Whether we have a consonant 
or vowel depends upon the _position_ of the quartet in the bit stream.

Because, for example, 1100 can generate either [raj] or [s], And is 
taking [raj] and [s] as allophones of /C/ (where C is the hex digit for 
twelve), and the allophones are determined by the position of each 
quartet in the string of bits.  This may well be correct in terms of 
'systematic phonemics', but it clearly does not accord with phonemes of 
traditional phonemic phonology.

I don't know whether And will agree with me or not, but it seems to me 
that our difference over what are and are not phonemes in Plan B are 
because we talking about different things: And has, I think, been 
talking in terms of 'systematic phonemes'; I certainly have not.

> 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?

That depends how it's uttered. I understood that Sudre intended Soresol 
to be whistled, hummed or 'sung without words'. Thus in its purest form 
it has seven phonemes. If, however, one for whatever reason doesn't 
whistle, sing etc but merely _says_ the names of the names of the 
different notes, then the number of actual phonemes uttered will depend 
upon the L1 of the speaker.

In a sense, the speaker has turned the Solresol utterance into a subset 
of his/her own L1. It's as though instead of saying "Bonjour" /bO~Zur/ 
(five phonemes), I were to say: "bee oh en jay oh you ar" - a good deal 
more phonemes   :)

That's the great thing about Conlangs - you have interesting things like 
Solresol & Plan B to keep you thinking  :)

[log in to unmask] wrote:
 > One thing about this discussion of Plan B has surprised me.  I always 
 > that all individual words begin with the consonant allophone,

Jeff Prothero refers to the "smallest semantically meaningful
letter-sequences" in Plan B as 'affixes.' I think most would call them 
'bound morphemes.' There are no free morphemes.

A 'word' in Plan B is, according to Jeff Prothero, "a string of affixes 
ending with one of the reserved affixes 'l', 'n' 's' 'v'." Later, it is 
true, he amends this in order to allow for a theoretically infinite 
number of end-of-word affix. But we can say that a 'word' in Plan B is 
one or more 'affixes' plus and end-of-word affix.

Certainly each morpheme or 'affix' does not have to begin with a 
consonant. Each word could only begin with a consonant, as you suggest, 
if after the end-of-word marker the bitstream is paused, and there is a 
gap before the next bit stream is sent/uttered. There is no indication 
as far as I can see in Jeff Prothero's description of Plan B that pauses 
are made between each word. As I understand it, the bit stream is 
co-terminous with the utterance.

 >whereas others
 > on this list have interpreted the whole utterance as the string,


 > individual words may begin with either a vowel or a consonant, 
depending solely on
 > the last sound of the previous word.


This is quite clearly the way Jacques Guy understood things in his 
critique of 1992 ('Plan C'), and I've not found anyone one who has 
thought otherwise. This seems to me to what is implied in JP's own 
description of his language.

[log in to unmask]
Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
There's none too old to learn.