You'd have to control for a whole bunch of other variables, though. Languages have numerous strategies to ensure comprehension, on all levels from phonetics to pragmatics. Trying to isolate the effect phoneme count and word-length has on it sounds really, really difficult.Squall wrote:Bad question.Xonen wrote:I'm afraid linguistics hasn't really yet advanced to the point where we can rank languages based on how good they are.Squall wrote:Since the environment is noisy, we do not hear all phonemes and the brain convert the words, which is better: a language with short words and large phoneme inventory, or a language with long words and small phoneme inventory?
Actually I mean "good" in understanding phonemes or how rare someone does not understand a word or statement in the language.
That study could be possible by counting the number of times that someone is not understood in dialogues.
The size of the words or the phoneme inventory may influence it.
Personally, I suspect all languages are roughly equally good in this department (with the possible exception of Danish ). A situation where some feature in a language is noticeably interfering with comprehension is bound to be unstable, and any change resulting in such a situation will soon be countered by some other balancing change. For example, most words in Classical Chinese were monosyllabic, but during the development towards Mandarin, the number of possible syllables dropped dramatically, resulting in many formerly distinct words becoming homophonous. Instead of living with a situation like this, though, Mandarin has increased the number of bisyllabic words (as well as undergone grammatical changes).