Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

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Amsmith
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Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Amsmith » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 02:59

I've lurked for a while and tried to pick up as much as I can, but I decided to finally make an account so I can make a conlang of my own. So question is, is this phonology for my conlang sound? If not, suggestions? I tried to do some research before posting on here but there's so much.

Vowels: a e i o u y ɜ

Consonants: m ɳ f v d t z s ɻ l ɽ j g k ħ h ʔ t͡s d͡z

If I posted the consonant order wrong as well I'd like feedback on how to do that right. Anyway, I'm open to all suggestions and I'm excited to get started on my own conlang!
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Frislander » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 12:25

If by "feasible" you mean "natural" then no, definitely not.

In terms of arranging your phonology, it's not so much a question of "order", because arranging all your phonemes in one big long line is not helpful at all, so much as arrangement and how you place your phonemes in a chart. For consonants the traditional way is to place point of articulation along the top (moving from the lips to the throat as you go from left to right) and mode of articulation vertically (less clear-cut, but you generally put more sonorant consonants at the bottom). So your consonant chart would look something like this.

/t t͡s k ʔ/
/d d͡z g/
/f s ħ h/
/v z/
/m ɳ/
/ɽ/
/w l ɻ j/

Why are these consonants unnatural? The two main reasons are that you have no bilabial stops but you do have bilabial fricatives and you have a retroflex instead of an alveolar/dental nasal. There are other more minor points, such as the pharyngeal fricative appearing to be just randomly thrown in there, and your rhotic system (while it would be fairly typical in Australia) looking kind of out of place compared the the rest of the phonology.

As for your vowels, the traditional representation is front to back horizontally rightwards, close to open vertically down.

/i y u/
/e ɜ o/
/a/

The things which stand out for me most are that 1. You have the /y/ frequently thrown into the traditional five-vowel system by conlangers, despite the fact that the resulting system is almost unheard of naturally, and 2. you have /ɜ/, a rare vowel which otherwise only ever appears in vowel system with quite a few more vowels than this. Replacing /ɜ/ with /ə/ would give you Albanian, and replacing /y/ with /ɨ/ would give you a not ridiculously uncommon system found, for instance, in Northern Welsh, Romanian and Ket.
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by sangi39 » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 16:35

Frislander wrote: /t t͡s k ʔ/
/d d͡z g/
/f s ħ h/
/v z/
/m ɳ/
/ɽ/
/w l ɻ j/

Why are these consonants unnatural? The two main reasons are that you have no bilabial stops but you do have bilabial fricatives and you have a retroflex instead of an alveolar/dental nasal. There are other more minor points, such as the pharyngeal fricative appearing to be just randomly thrown in there, and your rhotic system (while it would be fairly typical in Australia) looking kind of out of place compared the the rest of the phonology.
I don't know. Some history or allophony would help with this. The non-approximant portion of the phoneme inventory is, for example, similar to Tuscaro and Wyandot. You could start out with:

/t t͡s k ʔ/ (from older /t tʃ k ʔ/)
/d d͡z g/ (from older /d dʒ g/
/θ s x h/ (from older /s ʃ x h/)
/w (z)* z/ (from older /w ʒ/)

... which is much more similar to Wyandot and then have /θ/ front to /f/.

* An original /z/ (not from even older /ʒ/) could shift to /ɹ/, which could appear allophonically as [ɻ].

/ɽ/ could be the result of some older /r/, but I'd expect the change to be conditional and possibly just allophonic. Similarly, /ħ/ could come from older /x/ and then be backed in certain environments. This would give:

/t t͡s k ʔ/
/d d͡z g/
/f s x~ħ h/
/(w)~v z/
/r~ɽ/
/w l ɹ~ɻ j/

... which at least to me seems a little more reasonable and still keeps in mind the originally proposed phoneme inventory.

I am with you on /ɳ/, though, but I think that could be partially solved by having /t d/ be dental and /ts dz s z n/ be alveolar, and then you could have the aveolar sounds become retroflex after [ɽ] and [ɻ] in the vein of various North Germanic dialects:

/t ts~[ʈʂ] k ʔ/
/d dz~[ɖʐ] g/
/f s~[ʂ] x~ħ h/
/(w)~v z~[ʐ]/
/r~[ɽ]/
/w l ɹ~[ɻ] j/


Frislander wrote: As for your vowels, the traditional representation is front to back horizontally rightwards, close to open vertically down.

/i y u/
/e ɜ o/
/a/

The things which stand out for me most are that 1. You have the /y/ frequently thrown into the traditional five-vowel system by conlangers, despite the fact that the resulting system is almost unheard of naturally, and 2. you have /ɜ/, a rare vowel which otherwise only ever appears in vowel system with quite a few more vowels than this. Replacing /ɜ/ with /ə/ would give you Albanian, and replacing /y/ with /ɨ/ would give you a not ridiculously uncommon system found, for instance, in Northern Welsh, Romanian and Ket.
I'm pretty much with you on that, but [ɜ] could appear as a stressed allophone of /ə/ and not be out of place.
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But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by eldin raigmore » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 17:03

Frislander wrote:If by "feasible" you mean "natural" then no, definitely not.
OTOH the usual meaning of "feasible" is "do-able".
The questions are:
1. Would speakers be able to pronounce all of these phonemes?
1a. such that it would always (or, all-but-always) be possible to tell the difference between a phoneme's presence and its absence?
1b. such that it would always (or, all-but-always) be possible to tell the difference between each phoneme and each other phoneme?
2. Would addressees always (or, all-but-always) be able to distinguish:
2a. the presence vs the absence of each phoneme in any place in any word?
2b. the difference between each phoneme's occurrence in any place in a word, and any other phoneme occurring in that place?
3. Would children be able to learn the language?
4. How diachronically stable would it be? Does it contain inherent pressures to evolve in particular directions?

Question 4 in particular is obviously related to naturalism and realism.
Arguably some of the others are also related, probably more to realism than to naturalism.
Is the language intended for use by a human (con)speech-community? And how closely related are they to RL human communities?
If it's for aliens, or highly mutated humans, the answers to all of the above questions are up to the author; one might simply declare these answers by fiat.
(Or at least that's my opinion!)
Last edited by eldin raigmore on Mon 03 Jul 2017, 04:51, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Amsmith » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 22:40

Frislander wrote:In terms of arranging your phonology, it's not so much a question of "order", because arranging all your phonemes in one big long line is not helpful at all, so much as arrangement and how you place your phonemes in a chart. For consonants the traditional way is to place point of articulation along the top (moving from the lips to the throat as you go from left to right) and mode of articulation vertically (less clear-cut, but you generally put more sonorant consonants at the bottom). So your consonant chart would look something like this.

/t t͡s k ʔ/
/d d͡z g/
/f s ħ h/
/v z/
/m ɳ/
/ɽ/
/w l ɻ j/


Okay, great. Thanks for explaining that (:
Frislander wrote: Why are these consonants unnatural? The two main reasons are that you have no bilabial stops but you do have bilabial fricatives and you have a retroflex instead of an alveolar/dental nasal. There are other more minor points, such as the pharyngeal fricative appearing to be just randomly thrown in there, and your rhotic system (while it would be fairly typical in Australia) looking kind of out of place compared the the rest of the phonology.

As for your vowels, the traditional representation is front to back horizontally rightwards, close to open vertically down.

/i y u/
/e ɜ o/
/a/

The things which stand out for me most are that 1. You have the /y/ frequently thrown into the traditional five-vowel system by conlangers, despite the fact that the resulting system is almost unheard of naturally, and 2. you have /ɜ/, a rare vowel which otherwise only ever appears in vowel system with quite a few more vowels than this. Replacing /ɜ/ with /ə/ would give you Albanian, and replacing /y/ with /ɨ/ would give you a not ridiculously uncommon system found, for instance, in Northern Welsh, Romanian and Ket.
This already makes me so excited to have posted on here! All of the feedback is incredible. So many more rules I had no clue about.

So if I have bilabial fricatives in a language I'm almost definitely going to have a stop? And that goes for fricatives that come from anywhere in the mouth?
Also, I'm not really sure why it's strange to have retroflex instead of alveolar. i thought whether or not a language had those sounds aveolor vs fricatives was sort of arbitrary. Are there rules to that I've been missing?
how would I make it so the pharyngeal fricative didn't look like it was just thrown in there? Is that another case where it has to be a "set" like voiced/voiceless consonants? I was trying to have it come from an older "k" sound which eventually turned into that for the sake of fluency.

As for the vowel system, I thought it was pretty normal to just have the base vowel system and just throw some extra stuff in there, but would it be less arbitrary if the language has a lot of diphthongs?

Thank you so much for the input and I'm looking forward to your reply! I'm super excited to get started on my first naturally feasible conlang. Even knowing as little as I do I look back at my old ones and think how impractical they are.. haha.
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by sangi39 » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 22:51

Amsmith wrote:This already makes me so excited to have posted on here! All of the feedback is incredible. So many more rules I had no clue about.
Image
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So close your eyes once more and once more believe
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Just one time.
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Amsmith » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 22:56

sangi39 wrote:
I don't know. Some history or allophony would help with this. The non-approximant portion of the phoneme inventory is, for example, similar to Tuscaro and Wyandot. You could start out with:

/t t͡s k ʔ/ (from older /t tʃ k ʔ/)
/d d͡z g/ (from older /d dʒ g/
/θ s x h/ (from older /s ʃ x h/)
/w (z)* z/ (from older /w ʒ/)

... which is much more similar to Wyandot and then have /θ/ front to /f/.

* An original /z/ (not from even older /ʒ/) could shift to /ɹ/, which could appear allophonically as [ɻ].

/ɽ/ could be the result of some older /r/, but I'd expect the change to be conditional and possibly just allophonic. Similarly, /ħ/ could come from older /x/ and then be backed in certain environments. This would give:

/t t͡s k ʔ/
/d d͡z g/
/f s x~ħ h/
/(w)~v z/
/r~ɽ/
/w l ɹ~ɻ j/

... which at least to me seems a little more reasonable and still keeps in mind the originally proposed phoneme inventory.

I am with you on /ɳ/, though, but I think that could be partially solved by having /t d/ be dental and /ts dz s z n/ be alveolar, and then you could have the aveolar sounds become retroflex after [ɽ] and [ɻ] in the vein of various North Germanic dialects:

/t ts~[ʈʂ] k ʔ/
/d dz~[ɖʐ] g/
/f s~[ʂ] x~ħ h/
/(w)~v z~[ʐ]/
/r~[ɽ]/
/w l ɹ~[ɻ] j/
Heck. This is so full of stuff I'm so excited about. Is there any resources you could give me on how consonants develop like that? I feel like my understanding of that is super limited and I'd love to be able to produce what you just did. Also, I don't really think I know what /θ/ being the front to /f/ means. Also, any way I could study allophony that you know of?
I'm so appreciative of you looking to keep the originally idea in mind.
Lastly, it doesn't look like an m or n is involved in there. Is that just impractical with what you proposed?
Also, sorry if a lot of my questions are pretty rudimentary. I'm sitting over here thinking I know enough about all this and it turns out I've barely scratched the surface!
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Amsmith » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 22:58

eldin raigmore wrote:
Frislander wrote:If by "feasible" you mean "natural" then no, definitely not.
OTOH the usual meaning of "feasible" is "do-able".
The questions are:
1. Would speakers be able to pronounce all of these phonemes?
1a. such that it would always (or, all-but-always) be possible to tell the difference between a phoneme's presence and its absence?
1b. such that it would always (or, all-but-always) be possible to tell the difference between each phoneme and each other phoneme?
2. Would addresses always (or, all-but-always) be able to distinguish:
2a. the presence vs the absence of each phoneme in any place in any word?
2b. the difference between each phonemes occurrence in any place in a word, and any other phoneme occurring in that place?
3. Would children be able to learn the language?
4. How diachronically stable would it be? Does it contain inherent pressures to evolve in particular directions?

Question 4 in particular is obviously related to naturalism and realism.
Arguably some of the others are also related, probably more to realism than to naturalism.
Is the language intended for use by a human (con)speech-community? And how closely related are they to RL human communities?
If it's for aliens, or highly mutated humans, the answers to all of the above questions are up to the author; one might simply declare these answers by fiat.
(Or at least that's my opinion!)
I know what you mean! I usually have this approach to conworlding (when my husband gets confused about something in my conworld I often reply with "magic!") but I guess with language I get a little more excited about the rul- excuse me, guidelines to make something that's very possible to appear in our world.
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by sangi39 » Thu 29 Jun 2017, 23:51

Amsmith wrote: Heck. This is so full of stuff I'm so excited about. Is there any resources you could give me on how consonants develop like that? I feel like my understanding of that is super limited and I'd love to be able to produce what you just did.
Unfortunately I don't know of any specific resources, but I'm sure other members do. For me it's been a gradual build-up and familiarity that's come with time (I'm 27 now and I've been conlanging and reading up on languages since I was... probably about 10). Wikipedia's various articles on things like phonology, consonants, vowels, allophony, the phonologies of specific languages, etc. might be a good starting point, as well as the article on the International Phonetic Alphabet (for example, if you want to throw in a certain sound you can go to that particular sounds related article and see which languages it turns up in and what other sounds occur in those languages).

Generally speaking, it's one of those "practice helps" sort of things. The longer you spend doing it, and the more questions you ask and constructive criticism you get, the more familiar you'll become with things [:)]


Amsmith wrote:Also, I don't really think I know what /θ/ being the front to /f/ means. Also, any way I could study allophony that you know of?
Oh, "front" in my post was being used as a verb meaning "to become more 'front'", i.e. "to move further forward in the mouth. In this particular case I meant "/θ/ can move further forward in the mouth and shift to /f/", a process found quite readily in various dialects of English [:)]

Amsmith wrote:I'm so appreciative of you looking to keep the originally idea in mind.
That's all right [:)] Everyone has an idea of what they want their language to sound like, and some people want that to fit nicely with what sort of things we also observe in the real world. If there's any way of bringing those two goals together then go for it [:)]


Amsmith wrote:Lastly, it doesn't look like an m or n is involved in there. Is that just impractical with what you proposed?
Oh, that was my mistake. I was meant to have:

/t ts~[ʈʂ] k ʔ/
/d dz~[ɖʐ] g/
/m n~[ɳ]/
/f s~[ʂ] x~ħ h/
/(w)~v z~[ʐ]/
/r~[ɽ]/
/w l ɹ~[ɻ] j/

Where [ɽ] and [ɻ] are allophones of /r/ and /ɹ/, respectively, in syllable final position and [ʈʂ ɖʐ ɳ ʂ ʐ] are allophones of /ts dz n s z/ after [ɽ] or [ɻ].


Amsmith wrote:Also, sorry if a lot of my questions are pretty rudimentary. I'm sitting over here thinking I know enough about all this and it turns out I've barely scratched the surface!
Eh, questions are good. It's a helpful way to learn [:)]
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Ahzoh » Fri 30 Jun 2017, 00:15

Amsmith wrote:Is there any resources you could give me on how consonants develop like that?
I'd take a look at all these topics in Sound Changes:
Image

I'd also take a look at this, which lists all of the sound changes between several language families:
https://chridd.nfshost.com/diachronica/all
Image Ӯсцӣ (Onschen) [ CWS ]
Image ʾEšd Yatvṛḵažaẇ (Vrkhazhian) [ WIKI | CWS ]
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Amsmith » Fri 30 Jun 2017, 02:47

Ahzoh wrote:
Amsmith wrote:Is there any resources you could give me on how consonants develop like that?
I'd take a look at all these topics in Sound Changes:
Image

I'd also take a look at this, which lists all of the sound changes between several language families:
https://chridd.nfshost.com/diachronica/all
Woah, awesome! Thank you!! (:
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Frislander » Fri 30 Jun 2017, 16:50

Amsmith wrote:So if I have bilabial fricatives in a language I'm almost definitely going to have a stop?
Pretty much, yeah. I know of a couple of exceptions, but neither of them have a voiced-unvoiced pair like that; the only language I've seen like that is Dothraki, and that's a conlang.

Also technically I shouldn't have said "bilabial", since /f v/ are actually labiodental, though they frequently pattern with bilabials in languages (the actual bilabial counterparts are /ɸ β/)
And that goes for fricatives that come from anywhere in the mouth?
Not in every case. If you have an alveolar fricative /s/ then you probably have an alveolar stop /t/ (though Samoan and Abui are exceptions), while if you have a velar /x/ then you generally have /k/ (though there are exceptions in Micronesia). However There's no real stop counterpart to /ʃ/, the uvular /χ/ is not uncommonly found without the stop /q/, /θ/ occurs without its dental stop counterpart in English and I'm not even sure any language has a labiodental stop to go with /f/ (again though labiodentals often pattern with pure bilabials).
how would I make it so the pharyngeal fricative didn't look like it was just thrown in there? Is that another case where it has to be a "set" like voiced/voiceless consonants? I was trying to have it come from an older "k" sound which eventually turned into that for the sake of fluency.
Well Diachronic changes would be nice: if you have a justification for it then I'm perfectly happy with it.
As for the vowel system, I thought it was pretty normal to just have the base vowel system and just throw some extra stuff in there, but would it be less arbitrary if the language has a lot of diphthongs?
A helpful page on the subject
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by eldin raigmore » Fri 30 Jun 2017, 18:01

Amsmith wrote:I know what you mean! I usually have this approach to conworlding (when my husband gets confused about something in my conworld I often reply with "magic!") but I guess with language I get a little more excited about the rul- excuse me, guidelines to make something that's very possible to appear in our world.
Even if your con-speakers are all "aliens", (that is, they have non-humanoid speech-production organs and maybe non-humanoid speech-perception organs as well), it helps your milieu if there's some logical consistency to what they can pronounce and differentiate. You might come up with a "design" for their bodies -- a kind of fictional con-physiology -- especially for the speech-producing-and-perceiving parts -- and then decide on their phoneme inventory and syllable structure and the rest of their phonology based on that. You can keep it to yourself and it doesn't have to be perfectly scientific and accurate; OTOH maybe you'll have occasion to mention some of it off-hand in your stories or games, in which case it will impress your audience more if it seems to be internally consistent. So, just because you can say "that's just the way it is, dammit!" doesn't mean that's what you'll want to say.

As for resources for the strong statistical tendencies of all languages, look in the Universals Archives:
https://typo.uni-konstanz.de/archive/nav/search.php
Here are the first several hits when I searched it for statistical universals having to do with the diachronics of phonology, especially concerning phoneme inventories:
Spoiler:
Number 916 (used to be 919 in the old version)
Original As the number of contrastive segments in a language increases, the average length of a word will decrease.
Standardized The more numerous the contrastive segments, the shorter the average length of a word.
Formula
Keywords word length, phoneme inventory
Domain phonology, morphology
Type mutual implication
Status diachronic
Quality statistical
Basis sample of 10 languages in Nettle 1995
Source Nettle 1995: 359
Counterexamples

Comments
By Frans Plank 03.08.2006, 09:49
1. Some such correlation between size of phoneme inventory and word or morpheme length has frequently been suggested before; see Plank 1998: 200-201 for references (Hockett, Saporta, Milewski, Hagège & Haudricourt, Décsy, Dressler; add Skalicka 1979 [1958]: 239: "Enthält eine Sprache wenig Vokale und zugleich wenig Konsonanten (wie die polynesischen Sprachen), wird dieser Mangel durch lange Wörter kompensiert."). See for morpheme length.

2. See for a related suggestion that the likelihood of homophony will decrease with inventory size, given the same word length average.

3. As suggested by Roman Jakobson (or also by Skalicka 1979 [1964]: 308), an alternative to morpheme/word length of compensating for small phoneme inventories would be to be more liberal about phonotactics.
Spoiler:
Number 1243 (used to be 1247 in the old version)
Original The loss of all a language’s initial vowels (or prothesis of a consonant before them) is significantly less likely than a language with no initial vowels acquiring them by consonant loss or vowel prothesis.
Standardized The loss of all a language’s initial vowels (or prothesis of a consonant before them) is significantly less likely than a language with no initial vowels acquiring them by consonant loss or vowel prothesis.
Formula
Keywords initial vowel, consonant
Domain phonology
Type implication
Status diachronic
Quality statistical
Basis sample of 144 languages in Bell 1971
Source Bell 1971: 94
Counterexamples

Comments
Spoiler:
Number 1252 (used to be 1256 in the old version)
Original Front consonants are less prone to develop in accordance with consonant gradation than back consonants.
Standardized Front consonants are less prone to develop in accordance with consonant gradation than back consonants.
Formula
Keywords consonant gradation
Domain phonology
Type implication
Status diachronic
Quality statistical
Basis sample of 48 languages in Ultan 1970
Source Ultan 1970: C20
Counterexamples

Comments
By Frans Plank 03.08.2006, 09:49
1. Consonant gradation refers to the systematic occurrence of consonant alternation which has no grammatical function (consonant change) or which does (consonant mutation). (Ultan 1970: C1).

2. Good examples: Dinka (W. Nilotic, Nilo-Saharan), Loko (Mande, Niger-Congo), Nzema (Kwa, Niger-Congo), Welsh (Celtic, Indo-European), Finnish (Finnic, Uralic).
Spoiler:
Number 1762 (used to be 1767 in the old version)
Original Back consonants (velars) are more likely to undergo deletion than front consonants (labials and dentals).
Standardized IF front consonants are deleted, THEN back consonants are as well.
Formula
Keywords consonant, back, front, deletion
Domain phonology
Type implication
Status diachronic
Quality statistical
Basis Romance and Germanic languages
Source Escure 1977: 61
Counterexamples

Comments
By Frans Plank 03.08.2006, 09:49
For more specific claims, cf. and (about nasals).
Spoiler:
Number 1850 (used to be 1855 in the old version)
Original Nonlaterals (trills or flaps) have the property of lowering a preceding vowel.
Standardized Vowels tend to be lower preceding non-laterals (trills or flaps) than preceding other consonants.
Formula
Keywords consonant, liquid, nonlateral, trill, flap, vowel, phonotactics
Domain phonology
Type implication
Status diachronic
Quality statistical
Basis languages in Bhat 1974
Source Vennemann 1972, mentioned in Bhat 1974: 76
Counterexamples

Comments
By Frans Plank 03.08.2006, 09:49
Trill: vibratory movement of loosely held tip of tongue (or some other articulator).
Flap: the tip of the tongue curled in and struck aginst the roof of the mouth in passing on its way back to its restposition. (Ladefoged 1971, cited in Bhat 1974: 85).
Spoiler:
Number 1854 (used to be 1859 in the old version)
Original Languages tend to have laterals after grave consonants and nonlaterals after acute.
Standardized Languages tend to have laterals after grave consonants and nonlaterals after acute.
Formula
Keywords liquid, lateral, acute, grave, consonant, vowel
Domain phonology
Type no genuine implication; rather: provided that
Status diachronic
Quality statistical
Basis languages in Bhat 1974
Source Bhat 1974: 80
Counterexamples

Comments

(Don't be intimidated! Ask about anything you don't understand. Put off understanding what you don't yet need to understand.)

Here are some others: This time I asked for unconditional, achronic, statistical universals:
  • Every language must have at least one Primary Nasal Consonant in its inventory.
  • There are at least three primary oral stops.
  • The preferred number of primary oral stops in a given language is between four and eight.
  • The preferred number of primary nasal consonants in a language is between two and four.
  • The preferred set of consonants in a given language is: /p, t, k, t∫, f, s, m, n/.
  • Sibilants of different types tend not to cluster, or only across morpheme boundaries.
  • The presence of C1C2- makes -C2C1 as likely as or more likely than -C1C2.
  • When nasal consonants assimilate to a following consonant, then they assimilate in place of articulation (rather than in manner).
I didn't find it there recently, but I seem to remember the following:

(Nearly?) every existing natural language has consonant-phonemes at at least three of the following four points-of-articulation: Bilabial; dental or alveolar; velar or palatal; or glottal.

(Nearly?) every existing natural language has consonant-phonemes in at least the following three manners-of-articulation at at least one (at least two different?) point(s)-of-articulation: Stop; fricative; nasal.

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Most of these "universals" are statistical ("with overwhelmingly greater than chance frequency") rather than absolute.
And most of them are implicational or conditional ("if X is true of a language then Y is also true of that language").
In fact most of them are statistical AND implicational: "if X is true of a language then very very probably Y is also true of that language".
Some of them are "nested implications"; "if X and Y are both true of a language then Z is also true of that language".

Many of those that were originally expressed as absolute unconditional "universals" have also been claimed to have counter-examples.

In that sense, they're mostly "guidelines" rather than "rules".

(Of course, a single counter-example doesn't falsify the statistical ones. And, the more conditions one adds to the conditional ones, the likelier they'll apply to only a small handful of languages. Like, "If a language has OVS word-order and its English name starts with an H then it's probably a Caribbean language", or something equally uninformative.)


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BTW you might also profit from looking at the free-online-searchable subset of the UCLA Phonological-Segment-Inventory Database (aka UPSID).
http://web.phonetik.uni-frankfurt.de/upsid.html

WALS.info also has interesting data; but probably not so complete a range of it as the previously mentioned resources.
Look at Features 1A through 19A, especially 1A through 11A including 10B. ( http://wals.info/feature )
Look at Chapters 1 through 19 (especially 1 through 11). ( http://wals.info/chapter )
1A, 2A, 4A, and 5A, look to me to be especially interesting to you, given how I've understood your posts so far on this thread:
1A Consonant Inventories
2A Vowel Quality Inventories
4A Voicing in Plosives and Fricatives
5A Voicing and Gaps in Plosive Systems
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DesEsseintes
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by DesEsseintes » Mon 03 Jul 2017, 12:37

The latest revision of my conlang Ałýýla has a very similar vowel system to your language:

/a ɛ ɪ ɔ ʊ ɜ ʏ/

I envisage the ancestor of this language having a more "regular" system of /a e i o u ɤ ɯ/ which then underwent a general shift to lower and laxer vowels due to contact with the Híí languages. As part of this process the back unrounded vowels fronted and, in the case of the high vowel, rounded as the formants of back unrounded vowels and front rounded vowels are very similar.

So that's another idea for deriving your vowel system.
horizont
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by horizont » Tue 11 Jul 2017, 15:01

Frislander wrote:If by "feasible" you mean "natural" then no, definitely not.

In terms of arranging your phonology, it's not so much a question of "order", because arranging all your phonemes in one big long line is not helpful at all, so much as arrangement and how you place your phonemes in a chart. For consonants the traditional way is to place point of articulation along the top (moving from the lips to the throat as you go from left to right) and mode of articulation vertically (less clear-cut, but you generally put more sonorant consonants at the bottom). So your consonant chart would look something like this.

/t t͡s k ʔ/
/d d͡z g/
/f s ħ h/
/v z/
/m ɳ/
/ɽ/
/w l ɻ j/

Why are these consonants unnatural? The two main reasons are that you have no bilabial stops but you do have bilabial fricatives and you have a retroflex instead of an alveolar/dental nasal. There are other more minor points, such as the pharyngeal fricative appearing to be just randomly thrown in there, and your rhotic system (while it would be fairly typical in Australia) looking kind of out of place compared the the rest of the phonology.

As for your vowels, the traditional representation is front to back horizontally rightwards, close to open vertically down.

/i y u/
/e ɜ o/
/a/

The things which stand out for me most are that 1. You have the /y/ frequently thrown into the traditional five-vowel system by conlangers, despite the fact that the resulting system is almost unheard of naturally, and 2. you have /ɜ/, a rare vowel which otherwise only ever appears in vowel system with quite a few more vowels than this. Replacing /ɜ/ with /ə/ would give you Albanian, and replacing /y/ with /ɨ/ would give you a not ridiculously uncommon system found, for instance, in Northern Welsh, Romanian and Ket.
Great post, 1 question. Why is the original way to place the point of articulation on top?
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Frislander
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Re: Is this a feasible phonology for a conlang?

Post by Frislander » Tue 11 Jul 2017, 17:57

horizont wrote:
Frislander wrote:If by "feasible" you mean "natural" then no, definitely not.

In terms of arranging your phonology, it's not so much a question of "order", because arranging all your phonemes in one big long line is not helpful at all, so much as arrangement and how you place your phonemes in a chart. For consonants the traditional way is to place point of articulation along the top (moving from the lips to the throat as you go from left to right) and mode of articulation vertically (less clear-cut, but you generally put more sonorant consonants at the bottom). So your consonant chart would look something like this.

/t t͡s k ʔ/
/d d͡z g/
/f s ħ h/
/v z/
/m ɳ/
/ɽ/
/w l ɻ j/

Why are these consonants unnatural? The two main reasons are that you have no bilabial stops but you do have bilabial fricatives and you have a retroflex instead of an alveolar/dental nasal. There are other more minor points, such as the pharyngeal fricative appearing to be just randomly thrown in there, and your rhotic system (while it would be fairly typical in Australia) looking kind of out of place compared the the rest of the phonology.

As for your vowels, the traditional representation is front to back horizontally rightwards, close to open vertically down.

/i y u/
/e ɜ o/
/a/

The things which stand out for me most are that 1. You have the /y/ frequently thrown into the traditional five-vowel system by conlangers, despite the fact that the resulting system is almost unheard of naturally, and 2. you have /ɜ/, a rare vowel which otherwise only ever appears in vowel system with quite a few more vowels than this. Replacing /ɜ/ with /ə/ would give you Albanian, and replacing /y/ with /ɨ/ would give you a not ridiculously uncommon system found, for instance, in Northern Welsh, Romanian and Ket.
Great post, 1 question. Why is the original way to place the point of articulation on top?
The point of articulation of consonants and the backness of vowels go along the top because they relate to where in the mouth the sound is being produced (at the lips, at the teeth, at the palate etc.), and since the oral cavity is generally held horizontally when speaking it makes sense to have it represented horizontally as well. For sounds eminating from the throat (e.g. glottal and pharyngweal consonants) the horizontal representation continues as we move down the throat (so pharyngeals appear to the left of the glottals).

See this diagram of the mouth from the side:

Image

Going along the top we move from bilabial at 2 to dental at 3, alveolar at 4 and so on to uvular at 9, and we then continue down the throat until we reach glottal at 11.

Simply put it makes a lot more sense to orient point of articulation horizontally rather than vertically.
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