[tied] Re: ka and k^a

From: Richard Wordingham
Message: 40840
Date: 2005-09-29

--- In cybalist@yahoogroups.com, "Brian M. Scott" <BMScott@...> wrote:
> At 5:20:25 PM on Wednesday, September 28, 2005, Patrick Ryan
> wrote:
> > From: "Rob" <magwich78@...>
> >> I cannot (yet) say that /e a o/ is unrealistic, but /i a
> >> u/ is *more* probable, since languages with only three
> >> vowels tend to maximize the distinctions between them.
> > Why would greater height "maximize the disinction"?
> Clearly the different between /i/ (resp. /u/) and /a/ is
> greater than that between /e/ (resp. /o/) and /a/.

I wouldn't better on maximisation. They may keep them well apart, but
given human laziness I wouldn't be surprised to find /i a u/ realised
prototypically as [I 6 U]. (By '6' I mean roughly the RP vowel of
_cut_ - to me it's silly to tie an IPA symbol to a language's vowel -
it leads me to unthinkingly use the capital lambda-like vowel symbol
as a central vowel when it supposed to be a cardinal vowel.) I think
gLeN will agree that this is typologically reasonable. It also leaves
plenty of room for /a/ to split into /e/, /a/, /o/, especially if when
first distinguished they were [æ], [a], [Q_r].