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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: > > [snip] >> and would these "Hobbits" and Neandertals have spoken more in their >> throats >> or with the fronts of their mouths (principally dental sounds), given >> their >> 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 anesthesia!) 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 of speech. 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 very limited! 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. Dan Sulani ------------------------------------------------------------------ likehsna rtem zuv tikuhnuh auag inuvuz vaka'a. A word is an awesome thing.