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Phonemes

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Phonemes

Postby brogine » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:36 pm

Has anyone ever considered that the different kinds of sounds used in different languages might be a result of small anatomical differences in larynx, tongue, teeth, etc. among ethnic groups? Interested in your opinion as I prepare a catalogue raisonné (bWV) of my crackpot theories.
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Re: Phonemes

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:10 am

Someone must have explored that theory. Who was it, guys?
pl
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Re: Phonemes

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:12 am

I think the theory may have been explored and discarded. I know that some people, having assumed that physical characteristics preclude making certain sounds, have used this assumption as proof that certain people are inferior.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: Phonemes

Postby brogine » Sun Jun 15, 2014 6:44 pm

Surely there must be someone unafraid to discuss this. Populations have many physiological differences, like adaptations to high altitudes, which are 'in their DNA'. Literally. Or perhaps one should say 'literally literally'. And even if I'm 'inferior' to the Andeans inasmuch as I can't jog around the mountaintops, that in no way diminishes my natural rights.
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Re: Phonemes

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:25 am

"The different kinds of sounds used in different languages" are ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT the "result of small anatomical differences in larynx, tongue, teeth, etc. among ethnic groups"

The evidence can be found in the language acquisition of internationally adopted children. Children with normal physiology adopted before age 2 learn the phonology and phonetics of their new language without any accent or other impediment. See "Speech and Language 'Mythbusters' for Internationally Adopted Children" by Sharon Glennen.
(http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader ... 81216a.htm)
In particular, see Myth 3, "The child's first language will affect aspect of learning the new adopted language"
Refutation:
"Studies of internationally adopted children under age 2 have found that the first language has no inhibitory or facilitory effect on learning a new language or its phonology."

Or consider the following from Encyclopedia Britannica
http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/ ... cquisition

"In regard to the production of speech sounds, all humans are physiologically alike. It has been shown repeatedly that children learn the language of those who bring them up from infancy. In most cases these are the biological parents, especially the mother, but one’s first language is acquired from environment and learning, not from physiological inheritance. Adopted infants, whatever their physical characteristics and whatever the language of their actual parents, acquire the language of the adoptive parents.

"Different shapes of lips, throat, and other parts of the vocal tract have an effect on voice quality; this is part of the individuality of each person’s voice referred to above. Physiological differences, including size of throat and larynx, both overall and in relation to the rest of the vocal tract, are largely responsible for the different pitch ranges characteristic of men’s, women’s, and children’s speech. These differences do not affect one’s ability or aptitude to speak any particular language"
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Re: Phonemes

Postby brogine » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:07 pm

Excellent work, bnjtokyo. Thank you so much.
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