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LINGUIST List 18.2282

Tue Jul 31 2007

Qs: Rare Phonemes

Editor for this issue: Dan Parker <danlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Roger Blench, Rare Phonemes

Message 1: Rare Phonemes
Date: 30-Jul-2007
From: Roger Blench <r.blenchodi.org.uk>
Subject: Rare Phonemes
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I am working in Nigeria on the virtually unstudied Irigwe language and
would like to know more about thinking on languages with numerous rare
phonemes. Irigwe has probably ca. 100 phonemes in C1 position once
labialisation, palatalisation, preglottalisation [!] and combinations
thereof are taken into account. However, many of these occur in only three
or four words and can often only be established by a single contrastive
pair. This is a consequence of the morphophonology, where plural nouns and
verbs are formed by palatalisation and labialisation and CV prefixes have
merged with stems. So the question is whether you regard these rare sounds
as simply 'odd' sounds or as legitimate parts of the phonological system
which happen to be rare and do not meet the usual requirements for evidence
of contrast. I assume there must be similar problems for Khoesan?

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology

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