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Re: Voiced [h]? Difference between vowel and consonant?

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, May 1, 2005, 19:09
On Sunday, May 1, 2005, at 01:04 , Roger Mills wrote:

> Gregory Gadow wrote: >> In it's writing system, my conlang, Glörsa, has two tables giving its >> consonants, one voiced and one unvoiced. In the unvoiced table is the >> unvoiced glottal fricative, [h]. The table of voiced consonants has a >> voiced equivalent, which I've been transcribing as w. Phonetically, I've >> been thinking of this sound as the open-mid back rounded vowel, [V]. But >> looking at the IPA charts, I found that there is, in fact, a voiced >> glottal fricative, [h\]. So: what is the difference in pronounciation >> between [V] and [h\]?
The short, but unhelpful, answer is 'quite a lot' :)
> It's difficult for English speakers to segment out, even though we often > produce it in casual speech.
Yep - some varieties of English regularly use [h\] in words like _ahead_, _behind_ etc.
> Have you checked out the various IPA sites with sound samples??
It's a regular consonant sound in some natlangs; both in Czech and Afrikaans, for example, the sound spelled _h_ is [h\]. Indeed, those two languages do not have [h], the voiceless counterpart being [X] in those langs. [h\] is more definitely a consonant.
>> And just out of curiosity, what is the technical difference between a >> vowel and a consonant? Is it just a difference in how syllables are >> constructed, to where a vowel and consonant can actually have the same >> sound but get used (and therefore classed) differently? > > It has to do with (a) at least some constriction in the vocal tract for > consonants vs. none for vowels and (b) ability to function as a syllable > peak. Both of these together serve to distinguish [w/u] and [j/i]. Of > course, it's quite difficult to define "syllable" in phonetic terms....;- > (
This has been discussed more than once on Conlang (check the archives). The main problem IMO is that _phonetic_ and _phonoogical_ definitions do not coincide :) For this reason the American phonetician Kenneth Pike coined the terms _vocoid_ and _contoid_ for the _phonetic_ constrast, reserving _vowel_ and _consonant_ for the phonological contrast, this: VOCOID ('phonetic vowel') - a sound which lacks any closure or narrowing of the vocal tract sufficient to produce audible friction. (Thus both 'vowels' and approximants are vocoids) CONTOID ('phonetic consonant') - a sound produced either by complete closure in the vocal tract or by sufficient narrowing to produce audible friction. But in phonological terms: VOWEL - units which serve as the center or nucleus of a syllable. CONSONANT - units which function, either singly or in clusters, at the _margins_ of syllables. But, as Roger wrote "it's quite difficult to define 'syllable' in phonetic terms" - but the phonetic terms _vocoid_ and _contoid_ do not depend upon the definition of syllable. However, it is always not easy to define syllable in phonological terms. As Crystal write: "Providing a precise definition of the syllable is not an easy task, there are several theories in both PHONETICS and PHONOLOGY which have tried to clarify matters." Anyway, to return to [h\] - in Czech, Afrikkans and those varieties of English that have it, the sound occurs only at the onset (margin) of syllables and is thus a consonant. Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]


Gregory Gadow <techbear@...>
Gregory Gadow <techbear@...>Existential voice