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A new approach to modelling vowel space???
http://www.incatena.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=43866
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Author:  alice [ Mon Oct 26, 2015 6:34 am ]
Post subject:  A new approach to modelling vowel space???

No, I'm not attempting to overturn decades' worth of study by people vastly more qualified than myself. I'm just wondering how much merit there is in an idea I had after reading Lass's [i]Phonology[/i] and some other material on dependency phonology.

Ignoring rounded vowels for now, since I'm not sure how rounding fits into this, we start with three non-negative integral values, one for each of:

- i-quality, or high-frontness
- a-quality, or openness
- u-quality, or high-backness

implicitly treating vowel space as triangular rather than rectangular, which we justify on the grounds that triangular vowel systems are much more common.

We restrict these values such that at least one must be zero, and the sum cannot exceed 4.

So, as fundamentals, we have [i] = 400, [a] = 040, and [u] = 004; this can be extended to [e] = 310, [ɛ] = 220, [æ] = 130, [ɔ] = 022, and [o] = 013. 202 will then represent [ɨ]. Note that these all sum to 4, and are the most distinctive vowel phones. If we characterise [ə] as 000, we then have [ɪ] = 200, [ɐ] = 020, [ʊ] = 002; and [ɜ] = 110, [ɘ] probably = 210.

OK, so this is only a beginning, and it needs some tweaking to allow for rounding; but there might be something in it, assuming it hasn't been done before. It might be relevant to synaesthesia in some way, too. Any thoughts?

Author:  M Mira [ Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to phonology???

How to distinguish [a], [ʌ] and [ɑ]?

Author:  Salmoneus [ Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to phonology???

What does this have to do with phonology? It seems to be a cipher, or a game of some kind. Real phonology is about understanding languages, and your gematria can't help with that - for instance, a phonologist cannot simply "treat vowel space as triangular rather than rectangular", because vowel space is not in fact triangular.

Author:  Sumelic [ Tue Oct 27, 2015 12:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to phonology???


Author:  Nortaneous [ Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to phonology???

no

Author:  alice [ Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to phonology???


Author:  Pole, the [ Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


Author:  alice [ Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


Author:  Xephyr [ Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???

This all reminds me of that , which I shall paraphrase:

"Suppose the vowel space were modeled in a triangle instead of a rectangle."
"Okay. What would that imply?"
"I dunno."

Author:  Sumelic [ Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???

I thought some more about the geometry of this. It seems like what this gets you is a tetrahedral model. You can form it by slicing off the corner of a cube; the vowels can go on three faces composed of half-square triangles. The weird thing about this to me is that compared to a 2D model, the center will be more dense (I think -- correct me if I've made a mistake here).

Theories of vowels can be phonetically motivated (formant frequencies) or articulatory motivated (ATR, tongue "height" and "frontness," etc.) But I don't really see how your system is motivated. talks about a theory that sees vowel articulation as characterized by three main movements of the tongue, but it's a bit different from yours: the categories are "front," "raised," and "retracted"; the main difference from the usual descriptions being that back vowels are eliminated as a category. This theory seems to be more about articulation than about phonology, though.

The system is completely trilaterally symmetrical. One problem I see with this is that in many phonological systems, /i/ and /u/ seem to form a natural class that excludes /a/. The concept of "vowel height" isn't perfect for this either, since /ɨ/ seems to often pattern slightly differently from the other two. But I don't know that much about /ɨ/, and there are languages like Turkish where the four vowels /i u y ɨ/ all are part of the same group.

Analyzing vowel height as just being the opposite of "a-quality" doesn't quite work because the schwa (0,0,0) has no more a-quality than /u/ or /i/.

Author:  Richard W [ Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


Author:  alice [ Thu Oct 29, 2015 7:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


Author:  din [ Thu Oct 29, 2015 4:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???

Regardless of the discussion about whether or not this view meaningfully contributes to the understanding of vowel systems--

--Shouldn't [ə] be 222?

000 Isn't possible, as it would simultaneously be a high/front vowel (that is, 0 openness and 0 high/backness), an open vowel (that is, 0 high/frontness and 0 high/backness), and a high/back vowel (that is, 0 high/frontness and 0 openness).

Clearly, schwa cannot have a value of 0 for each of the three variables, because they 0 on one scale corresponds to 4 on one of the others.

- -

As for its usefulness: It divides the vowel space in pretty much the same way as we already do (in terms of open/close vs front/back), but adds a layer of complexity by encoding each value for no apparent reason. At the same time, it removes flexibility and it becomes less representative of the actual 'vowel space' in our mouths, as that space is continuous along both of the axes, rather than having 4 discrete points along 3 axes. Additionally, two of the axes (high/front and high/back) are essentially the same and should therefore be merged.

But it was still a fun mental exercise. There's nothing wrong with challenging a common view every now and then, even if it didn't lead us anywhere this time :)

Author:  Tropylium [ Sat Nov 14, 2015 1:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???

A serious theory I've seen along these lines (though I do not have a reference offhand, sorry) similarly accepts only three main components of vowel timbre: I, A and U. However, instead of assigning values for each separately, it ends up positing that a vowel can have one or more secondary timbre in addition to its primary timbre. Thus for example while /i/ /a/ /u/ would be simply (I, -), (A, -) and (U, -), some of their combinations would be as follows:
/e/: (I, A)
/ɛ/: (A, I)
/y/: (U, I)
/o/: (U, A)
/ɔ/: (A, U)
Also possible are trinary combinations:
/ø/: (U, IA)
/œ/: (A, IU)
The source I saw was working mainly on the phonology of Finnish though, and ended up positing that U cannot be dominated by I, hence (I, U) and (I, AU) are not possible vowels. I have no idea if this could be made work for other languages by positing e.g. (I, U) as /ɨ/ and (I, AU) as /ɘ/ or /ɤ/.

Distinctions like English /i ɪ/ or /e ɛ æ/ would also seem to require adding a further variable such as tenseness.

Author:  Richard W [ Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


Author:  Tropylium [ Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


Author:  vec [ Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


Author:  Valdeut [ Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


Author:  vec [ Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???

Thanks! The book turns out to be in Iceland so I can't get to it now.

Was it Proto-Norse or Old Icelandic that went through a phase of no /o/?

Author:  Valdeut [ Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A new approach to modelling vowel space???


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