Re: Hobbits spoke ?
|From:||Dan Sulani <dansulani@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, October 31, 2004, 16:26|
On 29 Oct, Ray Brown wrote:
> On Thursday, October 28, 2004, at 07:53 , Rodlox wrote:
>> and would these "Hobbits" and Neandertals have spoken more in their
>> or with the fronts of their mouths (principally dental sounds), given
>> voice box placement?
> The placement of our voice boxes does not limit us to either the front of
> the mouth or just to the throat. We use the _whole_ of the vocal tract
> from the nose and lips right through to the glottis. If they were limited
> to the front of the mouth, it implies their voice box was situated there,
> which seems to me quite improbable. If their voice box was in the throat
> (as I assume it was), why, if they were capable of speech, should the
> so-called 'Hobbits' and of Neanderthals not have used the whole vocal
> tract just as we do?
Emphasis on the word "our" voice boxes! (And those with similar
anatomy!) The placement of the larynx has a definite effect
on the mobility of the tongue! Especially on everything
from the velars on back. Chimps have their larynx much higher in their
throats than we do and, AFAIK, it shows in their ability to manipulate the
back of the tongue.
IIRC, there seems to be a correlation between the angle at which the
head is held and the depth of the larynx in the throat. With us, there
is roughly a 90 degree angle between our tongue and our throat which
contains the larynx. (That's one reason why laryngeal examinations can't
be done when sitting in a chair at the doctor and simply opening the mouth
and saying "ah": the doctor can see straight to the back of the mouth; but
he can't see around the bend and down the throat --- not without
straightening out the line between the mouth and the throat, which is
generally not too comfortable! In some cases it must be done under
Anyhow, our larynx has dropped enough so not only is the back of the
tongue completely free to move, so is the part facing the throat
(the "root" of the tongue), giving us all those lovely pharyngeals!
I remember reading that reseachers have tried to guess at the depth
of the larynx in ancient skeletons, based upon the angle that the head
connected to the spinal column, and from there, as to the likelihood
The really important thing, though, seems to be the hyoid bone.
The tongue anchors to it as does the larynx. Without a hyoid bone,
there would be no ejectives (the glottis may close, but the larynx
would have no way to rise), and tongue mobility, again would be
The question as to whether Neandethals could speak became
very interesting after one specimen was found with an (more or less)
intact hyoid bone! This, of course, _proves_ nothing (as was stated,
only a time machine could do that). But it certainly offers testimony
that tongue-mobility and speech were distinctly possible.
likehsna rtem zuv tikuhnuh auag inuvuz vaka'a.
A word is an awesome thing.