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

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, July 18, 2004, 19:38
On Saturday, July 17, 2004, at 08:42 , Philippe Caquant wrote:

> --- Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> wrote: > "uspex" (success), >> >> Yes there is. Please explain how _uspex_ can be >> pronounced in 101 >> different ways. > > This was supposed to be what we call a "raisonnement > par l'absurde" (don't know the exact English > expression). I didn't say that there are 101 ways to > pronounce "Bach" in German,
I know. You said: "..suppose Germans had 101 ways of pronouncing "Bach" (probably exaggerated ?), then there is no reason to think that Russians haven't also 101 ways of pronouncing "uspex" (success),..." I do understand what 'suppose' means. But you added "..then there is no reason to think..etc". I asked how it would be possible to have 101 ways of pronouncing _uspex_ because, IMO it is whole *unreasonable*. According to me feeble logic, there is ever reason to think that the Russians do not 101 ways to pronounce _uspex_, therefore your initial supposition is meaningless.
> but as soon as I say that > Russian "x" is something like German "ch" in "Bach" or > "j" in Spanish "navaja", plenty of people stood up > protesting that there are plenty of different ways to > pronounce these words.
Well - your description simply does *not* tell us how Russian /x/ is pronounced. At best it gives a rough approximation which may be good enough for a visiting tourist. But many (most?) people on this list are actually interest in language & languages and - terrible tho it may seem to you - actually want to know what the sound really is. Your description, alas, does not do that since: - what I understand is considered the 'standard' German pronunciation of the ach-laut is [x] (a voiceless velar fricative); - Spanish is the national language of some 20 or so different countries; however, I would assume, as you are a European, that you mean the Castilian pronunciation of "j" in "navaja" which I understand is [X] (a voiceless uvular fricative). So, even if I've made the correct assumptions, I'm still left wondering what the Russian /x/ is.
> That's why I said that > apparently, there were 101 ways to pronounce Bach, or > navaja, or uspex,
There are not 101 apparent ways to pronounce any of these words. It is simply folly to say so.
> or whatever, and so it is simply > impossible to discuss any further.
It is quite possible for any adult & reasonable person to do so. The simple thing is to say what the sound actually is - duh!
> (snip) > >> Nope - people tend to follow dialect patterns. > > Dialect patterns, IMO, are only one tiny element among > 101 good reasons people have to pronounce a word not > quite the way you would expect it. It of course > depends of sex, age, social and cultural level,
Usually referred to as dialect - dialects are not merely geographical. It still doesn't produce your 101 ways. There are perfectly well established ways in which to describe sound with reasonable precision.
> brand > of tobacco you smoke, and many, many more, including > who is your favourite movie actor.
Stop being so childish. [snip]
>> Would that be the one we in the UK call 'Johann >> Sebastian'? (Or did this >> prolific family have French members?) > > We renamed him Jean SÈbastien, because no civilizated > father would ever call his son by such a barbarian > first name as Johann Sebastian.
German being a barbarian language? This is a list concerned with language construction or, as some like to say, language modelling. That's why most of us take the trouble to get our heads around basic linguistic terminolgy, including phonetics & phonology. This discussion could have been continued & concluded in a reasoned way and without rancor, if only you had not shown such obvious disdain for phonology. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>Describing sound (was: Chicken Cacciatore & 2 questions about