On Thu, 15 May 2014 18:44:30 +0100, Jeff Daniel Rollin-Jones <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Still doesn't help with deciding the form of the article, though. Very fond of Hungarian's "a" and "az" (which, although the first one looks like the English word, are both definite articles, the one used before words beginning with a consonant, and the other used before those beginning with a vowel), but not so crazy about also having "z" in other places. 

When I saw your earlier sketch, I saw that /z/ appeared in exactly one place and wanted to squawk about how absurd and unrealistic and non-Junggrammatikerlich that was... and then realised I'd have to go squawk the same squawks at whoever invented Australian English, in which, as Tristan told us a while ago, "gone" is the only word with its vowel.  No, really, Oz, what's ùp with that?  

Do you have a diachronic story for why /z/ appears in the one context in Meino it does?  I'd certainly want to have one if I was pulling something so brazen.

>Maybe the article was borrowed and the phoneme doesn't occur in other borrowings (the /Z/ sound of English words like "vision" only appears in loanwords, for example)? 

I agree that borrowing an article is odd.  In the cases I know of where languages without (or with!) articles have borrowed from languages with them, the articles aren't borrowed as separate morphs; if they appear they'll appear fused to the noun.  Thus European langs (in many cases Latin originally) have _alcohol alkali algebra adobe azimuth_ etc. with fused Arabic article, some Cree varieties have _lite: lapwe:l lapwe:t lapata:k le:po:s_ 'tea, frying-pan, box, potato, inch' etc. with fused French article, etc.  

As for English /Z/, it first developed from /zj/ in words like _measure, pleasure_ etc., already existing in middle English, by the so-called yod coalescence rule.  Note that these words in French, _mesure, plaisir_ etc., don't have and never did have [Z]!  All inputs to the yod coalescence rule at this stage, AFAIK, were loanwords, but this is only because consonant+/j/ onsets didn't appear in native vocabulary at this point, having been eliminated by the West Germanic Gemination rule.  This of course paved the way for /Z/ to be borrowed from foreign /Z/ later, as in _garage, genre_, etc.

At any rate, /Z/ also filled a gap in English when it showed up: we already had series of voiceless and voiced fricatives at other places, including /S/.  English would not have been nearly so receptive to it if it didn't have any voiced fricatives at all.  Compare modern Finnish: /b g f/ seem to've been implanted through borrowings successfully, and both of these have two points of contact with established phonemes (neither their PoA nor MoA+phonation was new, though this oversimplifies in the case of /d/); /S/ is struggling, and its PoA is unparalleled; /z/ has failed to be accepted, and its MoA+phonation is unparalleled.  If Meino is similar to Finnish in inventory in that wise it probably also wouldn't accept /z/.

>OTOH, isn't borrowing them wholesale a cop out?

Only you can say!  Nothing's wrong with natlang inspiration.  (Though I must admit to rolling my eyes at some particularly blatant specimina, like borrowing the _-nen_ ~ _-se-_ allomorphy as I saw recently -- though I forget whether it was you or someone else who did that, sorry!)