Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Describing sound (was: Chicken Cacciatore & 2 questions about E-o)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, July 17, 2004, 6:53
On Friday, July 16, 2004, at 08:00 , Philippe Caquant wrote:

> I knew I shouldn't say that ;-)
> Anyway, suppose Germans had 101 ways of pronouncing > "Bach" (probably exaggerated ?),
Yep - it's exaggerated.
> then there is no > reason to think that Russians haven't also 101 ways of > pronouncing "uspex" (success),
Yes there is. Please explain how _uspex_ can be pronounced in 101 different ways. [snip]
> what ? The only possible conclusion is: everybody will > pronounce anything just any way.
Nope - people tend to follow dialect patterns.
> I wonder how people > can understand each other when speaking ?
Because we rarely speak in single words - most of us, even you I think, speak words _in context_. Natural languages have a good deal of in-built redundancy which help, usually successfuly, meaning to be conveyed even tho we have a certain amount of"noise" or interference - and regional differences of pronoucing /x/ are just one such. You really must learn how natural languages actually work.
> (BTW, French would rather pronounce "Bach" as "Bak", > at least when talking about Jean-Sebastien, but one > should definitely NOT ask a Frenchman how to pronounce > German words.
Nor English words - my daughter-in-law, who is a French speaker, having been born and brought up almost in the center of the Hexagon, finds the pronunciation of English names by most French radio/TV announcers to be ludicrous. =============================================================== On Friday, July 16, 2004, at 07:20 , Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> En réponse à Mark P. Line : > > >> NB: I've stopped posting anything about linguistics or natlangs to this >> list, so I've decided to post something about my other hobby besides >> conlangs -- cooking. >> >> >> How to Make Chicken Cacciatore >> ============================== > > > [snip great recipe] > > Great reply! ;)
Yep! [snip]
> It's not, because you describe the "x" in "uspex" in terms of the "ch" in > Bach. If there are 101 different pronunciations of "ch", how are we > expected to know which one you meant?
Fortunately, there rather less than 101 :) About three, as far as I can see [x] ~ [X] ~ [R_0]
> And it may be obvious to you, but you know both languages. Think of those > who don't know Russian, which by the way are the main target for a > language lesson book :) .
Yep - the 'like in' descriptions are not the most helpful. In many textbooks, e.g. it says Welsh _ch_ is like Scots _ch_ in _loch_; this suggests [x]. In fact the Welsh sound [X]. [snip]
> The problem is that maybe Russian has a single transdialectical way of > pronuncing "x", but many languages don't. Stop thinking that all > languages are like French, i.e. essentially linguistic monoliths. The > variations in languages like English, Spanish or even Dutch are immense, > and you don't need to travel thousands of kilometers to experience it
Indeed not - and some Brit English varieties do, despite Philippe's sarcasm, actually cause problems in immediate comprehension.
> (indeed, in Dutch you're generally at walking distance from at least two > or three dialectical variations :) , and not small ones. When my friend > first once from his living place to a place only 18 kilometers further > away, it took him a full year to begin to understand people speaking > their own dialect there! And he is normally *extremely* good at dialects) > .
My daughter-in-law, altho very much at home in English, finds it very difficult to follow local speech if she moves to a part of the country where, to us native, the local accent doesn't seem very pronounced. In many languages, regional differences are very much alive & to non-native (and sometimes even native) speakers they can prove an obstacle.
> Trying to describe sounds of a language in the purpose of teaching it > with sounds from those languages is thus just stupid, because you have > *no* idea which variety of those languages the reader is familiar with.
This is particularly so if the sound is English. How many times have I try to figure out whether the author is talking in terms of RP pronunciation of south-east England or of 'General American'. [snip]
> > > > (BTW, French would rather pronounce "Bach" as "Bak", > > at least when talking about Jean-Sebastien,
Would that be the one we in the UK call 'Johann Sebastian'? (Or did this prolific family have French members?)
> but one > > should definitely NOT ask a Frenchman how to pronounce > > German words. Especially if he is an international > > journalist.) > > > > I hope you've realised that with this sentence, you've just explained > *exactly* why describing the sounds of a language in terms of the sounds > of another language is a bad idea in general :) .
Quite so. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>
Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>Describing sound