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Re: Consonants and sonorants as vowels

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 2, 2002, 20:56
Marcus Smith wrote:
>> Indeed. We've just had a discussion that Japanese also could have [s=] >> (syllabic s) as an allophone of /su/.
>No, no. That is not a syllabic /s/. (I didn't know what the [=] mark >meant, I guess.) The vowel in that context is still there, but voiceless, >so basically nobody can hear it unless you are used to listening for them. >It shows up on a spectograph, but even after years of listening to >Japanese knowing it is there, I still can't hear it.
A similar problem probably occurs in another of my Eastern Indonesian Favorites, Slaru (Tanimbar Islands)-- it has alternations like (working from memory)-- vav 'pig'....vavi/re 'pigs'....vavkye 'the pig' (my "y" = [j]; the def. marker is -ke; the lang. metathesizes final V-CV, so this must be {{vavi-ke}}). Similar things happen with roots with "underlying" final /u/. The original investigator in the 30s said in effect "you just have to learn which words insert i/u". A more recent work (early 90s) posited base forms like /vavy/, /CVCw/, but she waffles somewhat as to whether these final glides are actually audible, or just a morphophonemic clue. Clearly both investigators worked without benefit of instrumental analysis; it would be interesting to see what's really going on. (There are probably Slaru speakers in the Netherlands, so it could be done.)