Lawrence A. Reid reid at hawaii.edu
Sat Dec 4 20:09:43 UTC 1999

Dear Jean-Paul:

>     In the Philippines too, the foreign phoneme /f/ is a
> shibboleth. Either
> you can pronounce it and you are regarded as educated, or you
> can't and you
> are regarded  as an ignorant.

This is another example of the kind of generalization that I referred to in
my last note to this list.  The situation you describe is not generally true
in the Philippines.  There are a number of languages in which a voiceless
labio-dental, or bilabial, fricative is part of the sound system, and which
have no difficulty assimilating English words containing /f/.  These include
Bontok and  some other Central and Southern Cordilleran languages, including
Balangao and Karao; Ibanag, a Northern Cordilleran language, and a
considerable number of Manobo languages which have replaced a voiceless
bilabial stop with the corresponding fricative. In these areas, at least,
there is no hyper-correction or social stigma associated with the phoneme.

Best wishes,


Lawrence A. Reid
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Moore Hall 569
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822-2318

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