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phi-theta [was: Hellenish oddities]

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 22, 2000, 20:16
At 12:44 pm -0600 22/11/00, Eric Christopherson wrote:
>On Wed, Nov 22, 2000 at 07:17:25AM -0500, H. S. Teoh wrote: >> On Tue, Nov 21, 2000 at 10:53:14PM -0600, Eric Christopherson wrote: >> [snip] >> > I think phi-theta would actually be pronounced [pt_h] since it's so >>hard to >> > pronounce both with aspiration, but I could be wrong. >> >> Actually, you'd *have* to pronounce the /p/ as [p<h>] because of the >> [t<h>] sound attached to it.
Yes, of course you do. [pt_h] would be pretty difficult IMO, holding the aspiration off till the second plosive.
>>It's called the assimilation of aspirates.
Yep - in fact it's a rule that velar and labial plosives are subject to regressive assimilation before dental plosives (not exactly an uncommon rule in many languages, in fact).
>Hmm, this still seems quite counterintuitive to me (I know, many things in >linguistics are). When I try it at least, I have to put a short pause >between [p_h] and [t_h]. Is it possible without a pause or vowel in between,
Er, yes. In fact, being an anglophone and thus normally aspirating initial voiceless plosives, [p_ht_h] is the easy one. It's the [pt], as in the colloquial French pronunciation of "p'tit" that's the awkward one!
>or would the pause just be an accepted part of the pronunciation?
No - not in a modern language with the sequence, e.g. Armenian _a£ot'k'_ [aGot_hk_h] "prayer"; Georgian _p'k'vili_ "flour", _t'it'k'mis_ "almost"; Abaza _ap'q'a_ "in front". [£ is the best I could do for _l_ with a bar through it, which is the traditional transcription of the sound now pronounced as a voiced velar fricative in modern Armenian] As for ancient Greek, it's always pronounced according to some conventional system (there are too many uncertainties to do otherwise) and I've, alas, heard far worse distortions than a mere pause in a 'difficult' sequence. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================