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On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 11:42 PM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
---SNIP---

> Single vowel sounds in isolation are posisble to classify by features,
> but impossible to identify as to which words they might be a part of.
>
> Even whole single words in isolation, lacking the context of the
> sentence, are more difficult to understand in accents that differ from
> one's own. But in the context of a complete sentence it becomes
> possible to understand a sentence even when the individual words use
> NONE of the same vowel sounds that one's native dialect use.
>

I find it fascinating that speakers of highly vowely languages apply context
the other way around -- the vowels determine the contours of words, and the
consonants can actually vary from speaker to speaker or even in the speech
of a single speaker. So in Samoan, say, a listener will, with reasonable
context, properly interpret "vauama" as the intended word "mauava" because
all the vowels are right even though the consonants are swapped (or just
plain wrong), but if the word is rendered instead as "vuama", they are
likely not to recognise it.

---larry