After contemplating these patterns, I decided to give regular cups another try. But this time I made sure that the cup was full and that the water touched his lips right away so that he could drink before trying to breathe it in. This technique has drastically reduced the incidence of coughing on inhaled water. When it happens, it's usually because the cup is not full enough. We hardly use the sippy cup any more, or straws, or little plastic cups. Goen drinks from the same cups we do. And, as long as he is drinking from a full glass, it's generally fine. Instead of choking and spluttering, he opens his mouth and makes that sound people make after they have had a refreshing drink (you know the one).
I guess the moral of the story is that you don't need the fancy devices as much as you need a little observational and problem-solving skills. Watching and paying attention goes a long way. I'm not sure what we'll do when he wants drinks more often than when we provide them at the table. But that's a problem for another day. And when it comes, perhaps I'll be glad for the sippy. Until then, I'll just fill 'er up.