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--- Larry Sulky <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 6:17 PM, Antony Alexander
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> ---SNIP---
> >  The fact is that 25 phonemes is nothing unusual
> when it
> >  comes to international languages - and is
> actually below
> >  average (I am referring to existing lingua
> francas rather
> >  than aspiring ones of the conauxlang variety).
> >
> >  I read an article about creoles a few months ago.
> A number
> >  of them were featured. The average phonology was
> 5 vowels
> >  and about 22 consonants. I have no reason to
> believe this
> >  approximate average isn't typical of all existing
> >  pidgins/creoles. Perhaps someone could confirm
> this.
> >
> >  Why should creoles have a bigger phonology than a
> great
> >  many natlangs? My guess is that it's because
> phonology
> >  isn't such a big deal compared with learning new
> grammar.
> >
> 
> But I would also guess that the most difficult
> sounds in the
> contributing languages are the ones that are
> dropped. I don't believe
> Tok Pisin features [T] or [D], for example.

Also, the phonology is a compromise between two
languages, and some of the superstrates (often English
or French) have pretty large numbers of consonants.
One thing that sometimes happens somewhere in the
pidgin>creole transformation is that the younger
generation becomes better able to pronounce the
superstrate language, so such speakers begin to
"correct" the simpler pidgin pronunciation, thus
introducing more phonemes from the superstrate. The
result is that a creole may well have more phonemes
than the pidgin it derives from, but not in any
"linguistic evolution increases phonemes" sense.

Something similar happens in non-creoles. In English
we pronounce "deja vu" as if it were "deja vous": we
mess up the final vowel. But some people make a point
of pronouncing it correctly (i.e., as in French).
Suppose that became trendy: we could in a limited way
add a phoneme to English. Would that make English
better or more evolved? No. But it would add a
phoneme.

Interlingua assumes that this sort of thing will
happen, since it retains the original orthography; Ido
generally encourages it for names. Whether it actually
happens, I don't know. Eo and LFN tend to reinterpret
foreign strings in terms of "native" phonemes.

In any case, such phonological enlargment shouldn't
happen in a well-designed auxlang. English
demonstrates how hard it can be to accomplish, and I
suspect testimony from other languages will point in
the same direction, so long as the source of the new
sound isn't considered somehow "better" (as English is
considered better or more correct than Bislama by
some).
 
Steve


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