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12:00 AM
@curiousdannii Oh! So there is a distinction, just that it's subtle.
 
@Susan Wikipedia seems to say that ס was originally /s/ and ש was /ʃ/, /θ/ and /ɬ/, but over time the /ɬ/ turned into /s/.
@Dɑvïd English orthography is just too messy
@ktm5124 A phoneme is an abstract basic sound, which is then realised as multiple 'allophones' in speech. For example, in many languages voicing is not phonemic, so that [b] and [p] are two variations of the one sound. In English voicing is phonemic, but aspiration isn't, so [p] and [pʰ] are allophones, but in other languages they are separate phonemes, and to speakers of those languages will sound completely different.
Another example is that in many languages [l] and [ɹ] are allophones. That's where the 'jokes' of Asian people saying "flied lice" come from. It was also the case in a language I worked with in PNG, and I could never tell if one of their villages was meant to be pronounced "Boilave" or "Boirave". I guess for them they're the same!
@ktm5124 Oh, I should've read this before launching into an explanation :P
 
How interesting! I just learned about allophones.
 
12:15 AM
If you see a sound written like this /b/ it is a phoneme, but if like this [b] an allophone.
 
The two terms are easy to remember since they come from Greek, i.e. Φωνή meaning "sound" and άλλος meaning "other" or "another".
@curiousdannii I have seen that notation before, but I never knew what it meant. Thanks!
 
There are also allomorphs. So in- im- il- and ir- are all the same prefix: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/in-#Etymology_3
 
Cool.
I see that in Latin, too. in- and se- can both mean the same thing. E.g. securus = without care, indignitas = without dignity
Would these be allomorphs in Latin? Or is semantic equivalence not enough?
Ooh. I just answered my own question. Clearly, in- and se- are not allomorphs, even though they can be semantically equivalent. Though in- and ig- probably are. (In Latin, that is.)
 
@ktm5124 I don't know anything about Latin sorry :P
 
e.g. indignitas and ignomen.
But you know English! indignitas = against dignity and ignomen = against the name.
 
12:26 AM
@ktm5124 Yeah, that's where our English in- comes from: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/in-#Latin
 
indignity and ignominy.
I like this idea of allomorphs. It probably comes about from the euphonic changes of a language.
ignomen (ignominy) may have started out as innomen but then phonological changes added a stop before the second syllable.
 
@ktm5124 The technical term is assimilation. So a prefix like in- would be written phonemically as /iN-/ with N standing for a nasal. (But because it also has allomorphs il- and ir- maybe it should even be written as /iC-/
 
Or would it be dissimilation, in the case of innomen?
Because the n becomes a g, which is dissimilar to the following consonant. But in the case of abduco, the b gets assimilated to a d, giving us adduco.
abduco is actually a bad example, because this assimilation never really happened. Better would be apparo, which was initially adparo (d assimilated to p).
 
 
9 hours later…
9:21 AM
@curiousdannii Of note, although that one often gets cast as a Chinese thing, the dialects I'm aware of (Mandarin and Shanghai, less certain about Cantonese) can distinguish l/r just fine. It's really the Japanese (and apparently speakers of some language in PNG!) who can't.
 
9:42 AM
@Susan Korean as well. It's probably areal.
22
A: Is it true that Chinese speakers have troubles with 'r's and 'l's in English words?

KosmonautAs I understand, in at least some major dialects of Chinese (maybe all, I don't know), the /l/ and /r/ sounds exist but are prosodically restricted. The /l/ can only appear syllable-initially while the /r/ appears syllable-finally. This means that a Chinese speaker would have more trouble with ...

 
10:32 AM
@Susan @curiousdannii @ktm5124 I'm aware from personal experience that Chichewa speakers (central Malawi) have a serious problem distinguishing L/R. I have my own set of amusing examples gathered at first-hand. ;) From Wikipedia:
> l and r are the same phoneme, representing a sound something between [l] and [r]. The spelling rules are to write 'r' after 'i' or 'e', except after a prefix, as in lilíme 'tongue'.
 
 
3 hours later…
1:04 PM
P.s., @Susan (and any other interested Hebraists): this looks interesting (EHLL article, recently uploaded on Academia.edu): "Biblical Hebrew: Periodization". FWIW.
 
 
2 hours later…
3:03 PM
@Dɑvïd That's interesting, do you visit Malawi often? Just last week my wife and I were hosting one of the couples behind the Learn2Serve programme which is training church leaders by the thousands out there.
Most of it was founded just a few years ago by somebody trained at one of the bible colleges up here in Scotland, it's pretty amazing how far they've gotten with it in such a short space of time
 
 
5 hours later…
7:54 PM
@Dɑvïd Interesting! L and R are both liquids, and in Greek, third declension nouns have a similar declension if they end on a liquid. There must be some intrinsic relation between these two phonemes, which has led them to be grouped as liquids.
 
8:20 PM
Why are there two vowel "a" sounds in Hebrew? I don't know their proper names, but one looks like an underline and the other resembles a T.
 

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