Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   


From:Mark Jones <markjjones@...>
Date:Monday, January 29, 2007, 8:31

I don't think any languages contrast a secondary articulation of
velarisation with pharyngealisation, largely because the acoustic effects
are very similar. Also, individual speakers vary considerably in where in
the vocal tract they make the additional velar/uvular/pharyngeal
constriction. Bear in mind that there are few clear landmarks within the
vocal tract, and the tongue root is a much less flexible articulator than
the tongue tip. Also, men and women differ in the proportions of the vocal
tract, men having lower larynxes and therefore proportionally larger
pharynxes. This could mean that men are better able to make an articulatory
difference between pharyngealisation and velarisation, though acoustic
effects would perhaps still be too similar (and might actually be more
different in women). I'm not aware of any instrumental research on this
latter point with regard to velarisation etc. but it's one that's occurred
to me with regard to supposedly sociolinguistically acquired patterns of
pharyngealisation in male vs. female speech in Arabic.

As for its symbolisation, the tilde is no longer current IPA usage except in
the "fossil symbol" for velarised /l/ in English, and you're advised to use
a superscript pharyngeal voiced "fricative" (it's actually more of an
approximant) symbol for this effect. You could use a superscript voiced
velar/uvular fricative if you wanted to distinguish pharyngealisation from
velarisation etc. Similar phenomena do occur in European languages: north
Welsh, and varieties of German, for example. The reason a diacritic is used
for this effect in the IPA is not Eurocentricity, but is down to the fact
that we're dealing with a secondary articulatory effect overlaying an
existing articulation, much like palatalisation or lip-rounding, or
nasalisation, effects which also are also symbolised by diacritics.

One final point, these effects tend to pervade entire syllables, if not
entire polysyllabic words or even longer stretches of speech.


Mark J. Jones
Department of Linguistics
University of Cambridge

MSN Hotmail is evolving – check out the new Windows Live Mail