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OT: "Tracheal" consonants: a curiosity?

From:François CHAUVET <fchauvet@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 1, 2005, 11:36

I was designing the phonetic inventory for a Conlang (no name yet), which
I wished would

correspond to my (somewhat) unarticulated natural voice (in fact, I can
speak French almost

without moving my lips). This is how I speak, and microphones are no help:
they just amplify

what does not exist.
So, I chose to have "semi-rounded" vowels (easy, although I don't know of
any IPA symbol for

them). As for consonants, I kept bilabials because they are very primary
sound, but moved

alveaolars back to retroflexes, and velars back to uvulars. I hesitated
about pharyngeals:

while I have many Arab friends who pronounce them without difficulty, I
never could; but I

kept them as a possibility (maybe dialectal?). And that was OK, with a bit
of training.
(BTW, I also envisioned accepting clicks, which are not that difficult --
but that would

have made a huge phonetic inventory).

But then came a car crash (BTW, never ever forget to fasten your seat
belt). I had my whole

oesophagus and stomach removed, my pharynx was shortened, and I had to use
a tracheostomic

canula to breathe, during over 8 months. Now I'm all right, thanks.
But the opening in my trachea is not yet closed. There is a thin skin over
it, which will

take several months to re-become plain skin.

The consequences of it are (1) pharyngeals are well beyond my reach, and
(2) I can now

articulate what I call "tracheal consonants" -- namely a plosive which I
could denote by

[q\\] and a fricative which I could denote by [X\\]. Both are unvoiced,
but since the vocal

chords were left untouched, there is still some air left to make a voiced
version of these

(although much less voiced than a real pulmonar voiced consonant).
I'm trying to make some record (MP3 or other) of these sounds; but I don't
like my voice on

record (It is at least half an octave higher-pitched than what I can hear
through the sull

bones). Since it is obviously difficult to find someone having had the
same surgery AND

interested in conlanging...

Now, is this a pure curiosity? Are there any natlangs with such
consonants? These do

resemble glottals, but aren't: can they be considered allophones, e.g.
[q\\] as allophone of

[?]? The medics don't understand why I seem so interested in producing
such "noises" (I must

 admit they sound like eructation when improperly pronounced). How
far "back in the throat"

is it possible to utter some "reasonable" consonant?

Thank you for any advice.


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>