Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Swahili as interlanguage. Chinese vowel clusters

I read of an attempt to have a regional African interlang. It was voted down by the single tribe that had a different linguistic background. Although English (and other European tongues) remain the language associated with a past oppressor, until some locally produced language breaks the stalemate, it will continue to be used.

D: I can imagine the Basques doing something similar with a European interlanguage.

In India, I think there is about a dozen nominally official other languages other than Hindi-Urdu.
English may be a standard of sorts there, but as of a few decades ago, only c. 5% of the country could speak it.
(Kiswahili) is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Indian Ocean coastline from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, including the Comoros Islands.[3] Although only 5-10 million people speak it as their native language,[2] Swahili is also a lingua franca of much of East Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a national or official language of four nations, and is the only language of African origin among the official working languages of the African Union.

Standard Swahili has five vowel phonemes: /ɑ/, /ɛ/, /i/, /ɔ/, and /u/. The pronunciation of the phoneme /u/ stands between International Phonetic Alphabet [u] and [o]. Vowels are never reduced, regardless of stress.

Swahili has no diphthongs; in vowel combinations, each letter is pronounced separately.

D: pretty easy to speak.

BUT. It has a whole heckuva lotta consonants.
Variant pronunciations are common. De-fric'ing the fricatives. <:
Swahili l and r are confounded by many speakers (the extent to which this is demonstrated generally depends on the original mother tongue spoken by the individual), and are often both realized as alveolar lateral flap /ɺ/, a sound between a flapped r and an l also found in Japanese.

D: OK I thought Yoruban was some obscure language. I thought keeping the L/R distinction would only annoy the Japanese.
(Only... big nation!)

Yoruba is the third most spoken native African language.
D- but there are soooo many languages!
The native tongue of the approximately 60 million Yoruba people.

D: - the global largest top 10 languages are all spoken by 100 million or more apiece.

Swahili looks superficially like English consonants put to simpler Romance vowels.



6 simple finals: a, e, i, o, u, ü
13 compound finals: ai, ao, ei, ia, iao, ie, iou, ou, ua, uai, üe, uei, uo
16 nasal finals: 8 front nasals: an, en, ian, in, uan, üan, uen, ün
8 back nasals: ang, eng, iang, ing, iong, ong, uang, ueng

D: OK, a closer look complicates Decimese even more.
I thought English would be potentially able to handle a more complex version than Mandarin speakers could.
English, after all has more consonant clusters.
Well, Mandarin seems to have as many diphthongs AND a whole lot of 3-vowel combinations.
This is not entirely a bad thing, though remains a pain during the phonotactic stage.

Recall that I could not figure out how to compact two word particles, each with a vowel, into the main word.
Well, Mandarian allows a series of THREE vowels.
Mandarin speakers don't use many consonant clusters though.
So only H* H* (word) format could be easily compressed into (word with 2 additional * vowels).
Gak! Now I have TWO optional compacting systems. One for English via consonant clusters, and one for Mandarin via vowel series. My head hurts again.

Mandarin syllables have the maximal form CGVCT, where the first C is the initial consonant; G is one of the glides /j w ɥ/; V is a vowel (or diphthong); the second C is a coda, /n ŋ ɻ/ (if diphthongs like ou, ai are analyzed as V) or /n ŋ ɻ j w/ (if not); and T is the tone. In traditional Chinese phonology, C is called the "initial", G the "medial", and VFT the "final" or "rime"; sometimes the medial is considered part of the rime.

D: um, is the "U" with 2-dot diacritic an indication of lip-rounding? Cuz it is in German.
English doesn't use this distinction, though.
It is present in coarticulation or anticipatory articulation. It is just not phonemic.

Gah. Back to the drawing board.

I think I'll complete and understand HIOXian before I manage to figure out IPA.
My memory is poor.

I just learned NATO call-signs. I used them for a memory aid system to learn Morse Code.
I can 'send'; I just cannot 'receive'. I am now trying to to learn the other half in reverse.

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