Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Questions (mostly about phonemics)

From:Leon Lin <leon_math@...>
Date:Saturday, January 20, 2007, 23:24

These have been confusing me to the point that I start to try to figure them
out in public. People sometimes stare at me when I repeat a phoneme/word
over and over again.

1. Is it possible to distinguish two final unreleased consanants? i.e. Is
there a sound difference between "back there" and "bat there"

2. I have heard some people call words with syllabic consanants like
"button" a 'nasal release'. Isn't this just a glottal stop followed by an /n/?

3. Is stress also accompanied by a raise in pitch (in English)?

=== If you speak Mandarin ===

When I went to China, some of my cousins said my very Mandarin was very
accurate and without accent.  I wonder if that's true...

1. Do voiced plosives and affricates exist in Mandarin? After some thought,
it seems that pinyin /b d g z j zh/ are just unaspirated versions of /p t k
c q ch/. Maybe that's why other Romanization systems have a lot of unvoiced
consanants, as in the name of the Taiwanese city Kaohsiung (pinyin
Gaoxiong). Or maybe its both voiced and unaspirated and it sounds unvoiced
because there aren't unaspirated voiced plosives (are there?) in English...

2. Tone

2.1. The 3rd tone confuses me.

2.1.1. It is said to lower in pitch and then rise again, but this seems only
to be true when the person is enunciating, speaking slowly, or speaking the
character alone (as when teaching the student how to say it). To me it just
falls into a very low pitch.  I feel that the 2nd tone is more accurately
described with the 3rd tone's description.  Say di3-xia4 (below) and compare
with di2-ren2 (enemy).

2.1.2 The 3rd tone seems to change into the second tone when it is followed
by another character of the third tone: say yong3-yuan3 (forever, eternal).

2.2. After repeating the 4th tone over and over, I still do not see how it
'falls'. It just seems to be a shorter version of the 1st tone, sort of like
the difference in the length of the a's in "man" and "hat".  This also
applies to other tonal languages, which seem to have all these tones but to
me just sound like vowel length.

3. Final pinyin /e/ does not seem to be pure, but with a unrounded central
semivowel glide into it (I've heard people say that research has yet to find
a language with a central semivowel). This glide seems to be a semivowelized
unrounded high central vowel, described on the Ithkuil page as, "an obscure
vowel found in Turkish and Japanese". (According to Wikipedia, it exists in
Spanish and Korean as well (and IMO in Mandarin, too))  X-Sampa [M] or [M\].

To see why I feel it isn't "pure", say first part of the word "suppose"
(don't say the "ppose" part). This is quite different from the sound found
in se4, as in yan2-se4 (color).



H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
T. A. McLeay <relay@...>
Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>
Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>
Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
daniel prohaska <danielprohaska@...>
Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>