--- In phoNet@yahoogroups.com, "H.M. Hubey" <HubeyH@M...> wrote:
> Richard Wordingham wrote:
> > ---
> > > >
> > > > As another example, 72% of languages have at least 2
> > That
> > > > has not stopped many Tai dialects from collapsing [l] and [r]
> > > > together, or losing one without replacement (via [r] > [h]).
> > >
> > >
> > > Are these inferred or attested? I do not believe that most of
> > data
> > > that passes off
> > > as being 'true" is really true. They are all inferred.
> >
> > For the Bangkok merger of /l/ and /r/, I would say attested.
> > are distinguished in the native script, and correspond to the
> > Indic /l/ and /r/ in loanwords. Thai writing (and, to a large
> > extent, spelling,) is 700 years old. The merger is described as
> > _Bangkok_ phenomenon, but I cannot bear witness to their being
> > consistently distinguished in rural dialects of Central
> > The distinction does not appear to be artificial, for cognates
> > across the Tai-speaking area bear out the same contrast.
> Did these /l/ and /r/ come with Indic loanwords?
> Did the /l/ and /r/ represent phonemes in the languages or were
> (like Korean
> and/or Japanese ?) merely allophones?

Proto-Tai /l/ and /r/ words occur in all four tone classes, whereas
the syllables of Indic words (at least, learned loans, which I
believe are the dominant type) are assigned to Classes A and D
according to their syllable type, and can have vowels and diphthongs
not found in Indic loans. Heavy Indic influence seems to be
restricted to Thailand and Laos - I'm open to correction on that.

Either Proto-Tai /l/ and /r/ are phonemes, or they had a very
devious allophonic pattern. They certainly contrast in Li's

> This could be a natural process e.g. rolled r slowly becoming
> etc, like french r
> and then going to something like h. But these are the general
kinds of rules
> I am interested in. It still fits into the "nearest-neighbor"
> pattern.

So does [S] > [s] !

The process [r] > [h] seems to have been overaspiration. Li uses
the phrase 'very breathy'. Across the Tai-Kradai family one finds
cases where /r/ appears to have aspirated a preceding plosive in the
same cluster.