Re: Phonological terminology question
|From:||Danny Wier <dawier@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, February 18, 2003, 1:53|
From: "Garth Wallace" <gwalla@...>
> I'm also a little unclear on how epiglottal and pharyngeal consonants
> are produced...is a pharyngeal fricative a choking sound? Because that's
> what I get when I try it.
Oh God, these took me forever to master. I'm sporadically studying Hebrew
and Arabic, so I had to figure these out. I had to look around for a
detailed description of what goes on with a pharyngeal consonant.
What happens is that the throat muscles above the glottis (that's where the
pharynx, treachea and esophagus meet) contracts at the sides, a type of
"gurgling" sound that also causes a backing of adjacent vowels, which also
become "pharyngealized" (Maltese "gha" with a stroke through the "h" is a
pharyngealized /a/). There is no such thing as a pharyngeal stop (that would
be painful!), just the two fricatives in Arabic, voiceless and voiced.
It's very easy to miss the mark and produce uvular fricatives. If you can
close off the throat and produce a stop, that's uvular, not pharyngeal.
Incidentally, modern Hebrew gives the sound of "heth" as a uvular voiceless
fricative (IPA chi) and "ayin" as glottal stop.
Not only Semitic languages have the pharyngeal consonants, but other
non-Semitic languages in the Afrasian language/phylum: Egyptian (but not
Coptic), the Berber languages, and the Cushitic languages, including Somali
and Oromiffa. And these consonants also appear in other families, usually
with larger, more "exotic" consonant inventories: Northeast Caucasian (i.e.
Daghestani), Khoisan and Salishan are just a few examples. And Tech (here we
Now the epiglottal consonants, which are extremely rare (I know of no
natlang with them), most likely involve a "choking" type of sound. They
occur as voiceless stops (IPA glottal stop with stroke), voiceless fricative
(IPA small capital H) and voiced fricative (IPA reversed glottal stop with
stroke, or voiced pharyngeal mark with stroke). I have NO idea how these are
actually produced, and they seem uncomfortable just thinking about them; I
have a pretty sensitive neck-throat region.
However... I've seen a symbol used by Sergei Starostin in his reconstruction
of Proto-North Caucasian: that would comprise both NW Caucasian which
includes Abkhaz and Kabardian, and NE Caucasian which includes Chechen and
Daghstani languages like Avar and Dido, the language not the singer. This is
the IPA glottal stop (resembles a question mark) with a small horizontal
stroke or tick, the epiglottal stop. That could be an epiglottal stop or
some sort of pharyngeal ejective, a scary sound indeed!
People living in grass houses should not get stoned.