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Re: Old Chinese retroflexes--a few questions.

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Sunday, November 21, 2004, 2:44
Steven Williams scripsit:

> 1. Those phonemes co-articulated with [h\]---are they > breathy-voiced plosives (affricates/fricatives, too), > as in the Sanskrit /bh/, /dh/, and so on,
We think so, yes. The native terms were "clear" and "muddy".
> The book explained they were similar to the English > pronunciation of the clusters /tr/ and /dr/ as [tSr\] > and [dZr\], but went on to say these clusters were > _not_ biphonemic---that they were pronounced as one > discrete sound. Were these apical palatoalveolars or > something weird like that, to contrast with the > laminal palatoalveolars, or what?
We don't really know. We reconstruct multiple series of coronal stops, but their exact phonetic values are a matter of conjecture -- or convention.
> 4. Modern Mandarin has four tones, but I'm told by > someone I know that Mandarin once had a fifth tone, > the exact phonetics of which are unknown, but has been > described by old papers as sounding something like 'an > arrow hitting wood'. Did Mandarin have a set of > 'broken' tones, like in Vietnamese, or something else > like that, like a phonemic glottal stop, as in the > Danish 'stød'?
It had syllables ending in -p -t -k (as in Cantonese and some other modern Sinitic languages), which probably first all changed to glottal stop (as in modern Shanghainese) and then vanished, at which point the words in that tone were reallocated to the other three tones (first/second, third, and fourth). Then the first/second tone split, with the breathy/"muddy"/voiced initial syllables moving into the modern second tone. -- John Cowan <cowan@...> "But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless. For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him."


Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>