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The Bellinghman
Date: 2005-01-07 10:52
Subject: Just how compressed?
Security: Public
I wouldn't have thought a natural language could be expressed in only two vowels and four consonants (or four vowels and four consonants depending on the reports), but apparently Silbo Gomero is.

(A Reuters report on how the brain actually recognises it.)
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Sion: tree sparrow
User: sion_a
Date: 2005-01-07 12:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:tree sparrow
I'd imagine it's a very lossy compression that requires a lot of context to disambiguate. The most import context being that it's not a general purpose language, but one used for communication between shepherds, hence can be expected to have a smaller core vocabulary than standard Spanish. Not that Spanish is a terribly phonemically rich language to start off with.
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Liam Proven
User: lproven
Date: 2005-01-09 16:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I /thought/ that had to be the Canaries whistle language. Fascinating but nearly extinct now.

You might find Solresol interesting, then, in terms of restricted phoneme set.

But generally, people need far less than you might think. Japanese, IIRC, has <0.75 of our set, and Hawai'ian has something like half the phonemes of English. Mind you, Maori, which is related, does end up with placenames like Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu.
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