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From:[personal profile] lady_ganesh
Date: June 7th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
Hmm. But English is made up of phonemes-- there's just a lot of borrowing from other languages, which is why it's not consistent.

One of the reasons Deaf speakers of ASL have trouble learning written English (and this applies over other languages) is that they conceptually have trouble with the phonemes. (This is why if we needed to teach my daughter a signed language it would have been cued speech.) One of the big challenges in terms of getting Deaf people access to proper employment, etc. is bridging that gap. A 'phoneme'-based language would help in that respect in a way an abstract one wouldn't.
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From:[personal profile] sami
Date: June 7th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
English is made up of phonemes, true. But very few of them are reflected in English orthography.

For example, the /n/ sounds are, in fact, different in the words anne and anthem. This is determined by context on a level native speakers aren't even going to be consciously aware of. There are a lot of things like that, without even touching the subject of the vowel space. Or homophones. Or homonyms. You can pare down a lot, the question is what.

(Bear in mind: I am in fact a linguistics major, currently studying Phonetics and Phonology. I speak not from a position of total ignorance.)
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