pronounciation of english
Tue, 27 Jul 2010 17:26:16 PDT
On 27 Jul 2010, at 14:52, Jane McGary wrote:

> Many languages have far more than 35 phonemes, or meaningful sounds, and a
> few have fewer than that. I've worked with more than one language of which
> we said, ruefully, that it has more phonemes than speakers. 

The classical example of such a language is Ubykh, which has about 82 
consonants (depending on who's counting), 3 vowels, and no speakers at all, for 
an infinite ratio of phonemes to speakers.

Linguistic studies of Ubykh when it was still a living language included x-
raying speakers in order to determine just how they articulated those many 

It is (recte, was) a Northwestern Caucasian language related to Abkhaz and 
Adyghe, more distantly to Chechen and a number of others. The last fluent 
native speaker died in 1992. You can read all about it here:

The history of the Ubykhs is a mournful story of the deliberate crushing of a 
small ethnic group by overt imperialists.

Regrettably, I can't think of any notable geophytes native to the area formerly 
inhabited by the Ubykhs, west of the western end of the Caucasus, but what do I 

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate
on beautiful Vancouver Island…

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