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On Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM, J. 'Mach' Wust <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Thu, 15 Nov 2012 17:35:57 +0100, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
>
> >On Wednesday 14 November 2012 22:07:53 Dirk Elzinga wrote:
> >
> >> [...]
> >>
> >> I'm also reminded of this quote: "Baroque phonological systems seem to
> be
> >> common in small close-knit societies, which seem to have the kind of
> social
> >> structure which disfavours the loss of marked phonological structures
> >> during transmission to the next generation. However, this is apparently
> no
> >> barrier to phonetic innovation, which with time increases the opacity of
> >> the phonology." - Patrik Bye
> >>
> >> It's an idea I find intriguing. As my work on Ute progresses, it's one
> of
> >> the things I'd like to explore.
> >
> >From what I have seen among the languages of the world, all the
> >more "baroque" languages in terms of phonology, morphology or
> >whatever, are small ones.  The major languages are all pretty
> >"well-behaved" (or they hide their complexity better - there can
> >be much complexity hidden beneath a modest phoneme inventory, for
> >instance).  There is nothing like Ubykh among them.  This seems
> >to confirm Bye's observation.
>
> I think that is not true with regard do vowel systems. Some of the major
> languages
> have very large vowel inventories (English, French, German). And if I am
> not
> mistaken, the complex phonotactics (up to three consonants in the onset)
> of many
> Indoeuropean languages are quite unusual.
>

A couple of things.

First, the original quote does not preclude the possibility of phonological
complexity in widely spoken languages; it just asserts the commonness (not
universality!) of complex phonology in languages spoken in small scale
societies.

Second, the quote was taken from a paper in which the author was speaking
of a specific kind of phonological complexity: opacity. This is the notion
that phonotactic statements which are not surface true can nevertheless be
true of a language, given a sufficiently abstract representation of the
phonological structures and processes involved. Your examples were about
surface phonotactics which, while intricate and interesting, aren't complex
in the same way.

Dirk


> --
> grüess
> mach
>