On Mon, 13 Jul 2009 11:20:35 +0100, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> 

>Paul Roser wrote:
>> On Sat, 11 Jul 2009 12:23:36 +0100, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> 
>>> IIRC Swati has only the dental grade of clicks.
>> Dahalo also has a very reduced set of clicks, voiced and voiceless nasalized dental
>> (narrowly, probably lamino-dentialveolar),
>Certainly reduced, but even here we have contrast between
>voice and voiceless in two different positions of
>> which may also be rounded/labialized or plain (labialization being a feature that 
>> similarly occurs with some other coronals and dorsals as well). Of course, Dahalo
>> is also one of the few languages in the world with two voiceless lateral fricatives, 
>> alveolar (┬▒labialized) vs palatal paired with ejective affricates.
>Yes, Dahalo's phoneme inventory is certainly unusual. I
>wonder how, if we didn't know of Dahalo, we would have
>reacted to someone producing a similar inventory for a
>conlang   ;)

The number of natlangs with contrasting lateral fricatives is rather small, and most of 
them are obscure - Dahalo, Toda, Ah-Hmao (Western dialect has alveolar and retroflex 
iirc), several of the Diegue├▒o dialects on the California-Mexico border, and possibly North 
Slope Inupiaq and one of the more obscure Finno-Ugric languages, if memory serves.

But some conlangs have been proposed with truly novel inventories.

Another example of an unusual inventory was reported to me by Mark Donohue for Rawo, 
spoken in Papua new Guinea (best viewed in monospace font):

p   pw         k  
mb  mbw  nd    Ng 
m   mw   n     N  
p\  p\w  s  S     
B\  B\w  r        
    w       j     

Which is most unusual for having two labial trills, one plain and one rounded/labio-

>> Damin has only a set of voiced nasalized clicks,
>A one dimensional set. It does seem to me that if clicks
>occur in a natlang as an integral part of the phoneme
>inventory (i.e. not just as odd exclamations), there is more
>than one of them.

One thing that occurred to me is that Xhosa, Sandawe, the Khoisan languages, and even 
Dahalo have multiple series of stops, typically voiced, vls aspirated and ejective at a 
minimum and the click series tend to reflect this. Lardil, however, has no such contrast in 
its stops, so a language with no voice/aspiration/glottal contrast in its stops *might* not 
have such a contrast in its clicks. 

Of course, there is still no good theory on how those languages with clicks in their 
inventories acquired them, other than Xhosa and the other languages borrowing them 
from Khoisan - which still leaves open the question of how the Khoisan languages got 
them in the first place...