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Tracheal consoants: more

From:François CHAUVET <fchauvet@...>
Date:Friday, June 3, 2005, 6:42
My intent was certainly not to use some medical reason as a justification
for a particuler articulation. I just wanted to verify that my _own_
particular articulation of French was not an obstacle to comprehension
and phonetic analysis.

As for vowels, the "less rounded" IPA symbol (CXS [_c]) is OK; I'm so
used to consider rounded/unrounded as a yes/no opposition that it did
not even occur to me. And these diacritics are in a small table, at the
end of the IPA document...
Nevertheless, I do not use both , e.g. a close_mid back rounded [o] and
its "less rounded" counterpart [o_c]. So this kind of notation would be
used only to give a precise description of my own pronunciation.

Now to consonants. The "tracheal" consonants I refer to are indeed very
similar to epiglottals -- but not quite the same (and, of course, have
little to do with coughing, just try to use a cough as a phonemic
entity, e.g. between two wowels...).
It is easy to find sound records of epiglottals by googling. These give
a good idea of what I mean. I also found a deep analysis of epiglottals
in Amis (, from which it results
that such consonants are a pure nightmare to phonetists.
The paper mentions that Amis has in fact (as a phoneme!) a complex
assembly [?\ >\ _h], all thre co-articulated! The pictures of the pharynx
and larynx nor the spectrograms are of much help to non-specialists.

I still feel that my "tracheals" come from deeper than the epiglottis,
because I can feel the "tracheostomic membrane" vibrate when I emit them.
Moreover, in the "voiced" versions, the vocal chords seem to enter in
vibration a few milliseconds later (but of course I would need a signal
analyzer to check that).
Of course, I have medical reasons for that. But I wondered, as all of
you who answered my post, if _these_ sounds could be "natural" ones in a
natlang. It turns out to be the case, although uncommon.

And I don't think people who use such sounds have a different throat or
epiglottis. They just developed ease with these articulations when young
(between 3 and 5 AFAIK); this is why I can't utter proper Arabic, while
my Arab friends just play about with the whole bunch of pharyngeals and
glottals their language uses. Had I learned Arabic vhen a child, I would
have no such difficulty whatsoever.

Now, if these sounds seem unbeautiful or unpleasant to you, you probably
don't consider Arabic (e.g.) a pleasant language. That's up to you, and
then you should learn Esperanto or one of its offsprings; even Lojban is
smoother in this respect. But I can assure you that having the throat
cut down to the pharynx and the trachea directly open to exterior
atmosphere is a still more unpleasant experience... :-)

Thank you all for your contributions.

-- fchauvet


Joseph Bridwell <darkmoonman@...>