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Re: buffer vowel
Yes the vowels will tend to spread as far as possible. But there is
still some vowel space that is not used in most dialects.
Rather than trying to define a specific buffer sound, that mnight be
difficult for some speakers bvecause unnatural, I would prefer to leave it speak
speaker dependent. Indeed buffering is largely an involuntary reaction to
difficult sounds and the amount we biffer may vary from time to time based
on how much we are concentrating on speech.
For English speakers, anything in that region you labelled "Y" should be fine
- high central. Other speakers might need a little different sound.
Length is also important. While Lojban vowel o\phonems have no defined
length, in practice, the buffer sound is shorter than any vowel, whatever the
dialect. I have tended in practice to lengthen my hyphen schwas when I am aware
of buffering, to heighten any contrast.