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Re: OT: /x\/ (was: English and front rounded vowels)

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Thursday, December 13, 2007, 12:42
Paul Roser skrev:
 > On Wed, 12 Dec 2007 13:20:18 +0100, Benct Philip Jonsson
 > <bpj@...> wrote:
 >> On 2007-12-11 John Vertical wrote:
 >>> BTW, would you happen to kno if anyone actually
 >>> labiodentalizes the sound anymore? Lingual details aside
 >>> ([s`_P] ~ [f_G]...), that's what, over here in Finland,
 >>> is AIUI thought of as the "pedantical" pronunciation.
 >>> (While, as you say, "everyone sensible" here uses [S] ~
 >>> [s\] ~ [s`].)
 >> At least around here (the West Coast of Sweden) the
 >> strongly labi(odent)alized versions are receding but
 >> labialization as such is not gone. As for the 'pure'
 >> [x\] it ain't labialized but a [xS)] coarticulation. I
 >> have no idea about when and where it is or was
 >> spontaneously used.
 >> I've heard some people in the north of Sweden use /f/
 >> instead of /S/ in some loan words learnt from radio and
 >> television, BTW. I wonder if even [X] can sound like [f]
 >> to those who lack it in their own lect?
 > Wouldn't that be parallel to the English shift from /x/ to
 > /f/ in words like 'laugh'?

Yes, or rather the Russian /f/ for Greek /T/ -- substituting
a native phoneme for a foreign one in a way which strikes
other foreigners used to another substitution funny: we
expect /s`/ pro /x\/, so /f/ is funny, Germans expect /t/
pro /T/, so /f/ is funny.

 > One of the things I love about this list is that I've
 > probably learned more about the phonetics and distribution
 > of the various pronunciations of /x\/ here than I've been
 > able to glean from any article in print on the topic.

Because printed sources lag behind reality and are wrought
with prestige and prescriptivism.

 > A couple of questions about the usage of [X] for <skj> etc
 > - how common is this pronunciation in contemporary usage?

Very. South of Mälaren -- i.e. where the most people live
-- it's *the* pronunciation. To us /S/ not combined with a
preferably broad Norrland accent is sissy. End of story.

 > I read something online that implied it was most common
 > among immigrant communities within Sweden.

They probably meant that Iranians and Kurds speaking Swedish
tend to use a too scrapy and possibly trilled [X]. Kurdish-
born comedian Özz Nûjen is known to exaggerate that
tendency deliberately. He doesn't in his normal speech, but
only when caricaturing the guys from the suburban concrete
ghettos, or when using the wrong accent for the wrong
character, like a doctor speaking like a taxi driver, as he
often does. The right pronunciation is 'soft' but clearly
uvular. The Russian /x/ is almost a voiced approximant, and
clearly velar, which makes it too weak to be properly
distinguished from /h/ -- cf. the guy I heard whose _jour_
sounded like _hor_, and he was a Västergötland native!

The most hilarious I ever heard, tho, was an Arab living in
Malmö who used Arabic /?\/ for Swedish /r/ -- Southern /r/
being uvular -- and he was speaking dead seriously!

 > When I was learning German many years ago my pronunciation
 > of <ch> was a very scrapy uvular fricative, verging on a
 > voiceless uvular trill - would that be acceptable in
 > Swedish, or would it attract odd looks?

It would. Try to hit the middle point between an approximant
(the weakest you can do and still get friction noise) and
what you have now, and no trilling or you'll sound like Özz
at his funniest! A south American Spanish /x/ would be
correct -- anyways their attempt at /h/ sounds way too much
like /x/ to us.

 > (And if any of our resident Welsh speakers are reading
 > this, would it be acceptable for Welsh <ch>? And what is
 > the distinction between that and the voiceless uvular
 > trill realization of <rh> in Northern Wales?)

I don't *know*, but probably the _ch_ is untrilled.

/BP 8^)>
Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch atte melroch dotte se
"Truth, Sir, is a cow which will give [skeptics] no
more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull."
                            -- Sam. Johnson (no rel. ;)


R A Brown <ray@...>/x\/