Re: the Most Consonants in a row?
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, September 15, 2005, 10:59|
Rodlox R wrote:
>> Reply-To: veritosproject@GMAIL.COM
>> Subject: Re: the Most Consonants in a row?
>> Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2005 10:07:34 -0700
>> Some Eastern European langs have like 5 or 6, but they usually have
>> schwas and stuff.
> schwas are okay.
> if I might ask, what consonants were they?
They're not - they're vowels! The schwa is the mid central vowel,
written [@] in CXS and as an inverted lowercase e in IPA. It is probably
the most common vowel in English.
The 'stuff' is syllabic consonants (e.g. /r/ and /l/ often function as
the nucleus of a syllable in many languages, but so can many other
consonants, for example [n] is syllabic in most pronunciations of
If you are going to allow 'schwas and stuff', then the question "What's
the most consonants that can neighbor one another?" is as meaningless as
"How long is a piece of string?" Indeed, even if you do not allow schwas
or any other epenthetic vowels, but do allow syllabic consonants, the
question still remains meaningless - or at least the answer is "as many
as you like".
Paul Bennett wrote:
> I'd argue that the |v|s could be syllabic too, if pushed.
Certainly [v] can be syllabic.
> Doesn't stop them being consonants, though --
> although we're in territory where "vocoid" might be a more useful
> term than "vowel".
A syllabic [v] is a phonological consonant but a phonetic vowel or vocoid.
It is unfortunate that the terms 'vowel' and 'consonant' are often used
- sometimes, alas, indiscriminately for both phonological and phonetic
features. (They are also, of course, commonly used by non-linguists to
describes certain letters of the alphabet - even more confusing :)
In order to avoid confusion, the American linguist Kenneth Pike proposed
the terms _vocoid_ and _contoid_ to denote _phonetic_ values, reserving
'vowel' and 'consonant' for phonological values. Regrettably IMO his
suggestion has not been adopted by everyone - and confusion continues.
These terms were discussed at some length not so long ago on the Conlang
list - go search the archives :)
Thus if Rodlox was asking how many (phonological) consonants there can
be in any string of sounds, the answer is simply as many as you like.
A more interesting question is how many contoids can be adjacent to one
another. There is clearly a limit here.
MAKE POVERTY HISTORY