question about phonemes

Suzette Haden Elgin ocls at MADISONCOUNTY.NET
Fri Apr 4 13:43:23 UTC 2003

April 4, 2003

Spike writes:

"Sorry for any confusion, folks -- Geoff and Dan didn't see my message
because I had replied privately to Suzette.  I didn't really want to
make time to participate fully in a discussion right now, and I had
this silly idea that I could throw out a quick thought off the top of
my head and then avoid a longer discussion of anything that might
turn out to be more controversial than I had realized."

Spike doesn't owe the list an apology -- I do. If I'd been paying proper
attention to the headers on my messages, I would have realized that his
note was addressed only to me.

I can say honestly that I'm sorry to have made public something Spike
intended to share only with me; that was rude.

I _can't_ say, however, that I'm sorry to have unleashed the ensuing
discussion. It seems to me that the discussion has been worthwhile, if only
in demonstrating that there is no consensus either on the reality
(cognitive, or psychological, or whatever-you-like) of the phoneme, or on
the maximum number of phonemes documented for a human language.

At least I now know that what I don't know isn't the result of my having
failed to look for the answer in the right places.

Thank you for your tolerance, and for your erudition.


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