Re: R: Re: /H/ (was: An Unknown Conlang)
|From:||Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Monday, July 10, 2000, 19:50|
At 9:30 pm +0200 7/7/00, Mangiat wrote:
>> Very true - and I'm not convinced /H/ has _phonemic_ status in French
>What is a 'phonemic status'?
I mean whether [H] and [y] are both separate phonemes in French or whether
the two sounds are both allophones of a single phoneme /y/.
>I don't know what you mean. Maybe you mean the sound /H/, (semi)consonantal
>and present only in clusters, is never found alone so it is never felt as an
>indipendent sound? As in Italian, where you have /dZ/ but never /Z/ alone?
It is true that [Z] is not a phoneme in standard Italian, but not because
it occurs as an allophone of another phoneme but because it occurs only as
the off-set of the affricate [dZ]; and /dZ/ does have phonemic status in
As to phonemes and allophones, in both English and Italian the sounds [s]
and [z] occur but whereas in English both sounds have independent phonemic
status, i.e. /s/ and /z/ (e.g. zoo /zu:/ ~ Sue /su:/; lace /leis/ ~ laze
/leiz/ etc), in Italian they are allophones of a single phoneme, usually
written /s/. This is because whether written _s_ is pronounced [s] or [z]
depends upon their environment, thus:
[s] if initial before a vowel, if before a voiceless consonant, or if it is
geminated (doubled), e.g. sabato, seta; scudo, sforzo, astio; tassa, basso.
[z] if before a voiced consonant and, generally(1), when single between two
vowels, e.g. sbadato, smalto; vaso, esame, uso.
(1) I know there are exceptions, but they a largely predictable, e.g. [s]
is retained after a prefix (risultare), in the suffix -oso and its
derivatives (curioso, curiosità) and in past participles of certain
irregular verbs (raso).
English, ancient Greek & modern Mandarin Chinese all have a series of
unaspirated voiceless plosives (occlusives) and a series of aspirated
voiceless plosives: [p], [t], [k]; [p_h], [t_h], [k_h]. But whereas in
ancient Greek and modern Mandarin we also have six distinct phonemes here,
in English there are only three.
In English initial voiceless plosives are aspirated, however if they follow
[s], they lose the aspiration, e.g. pin [p_hIn], spin [spIn]; tie [t_haI],
sty [staI]; kin [k_hIn], skin [skIn]. Thus in English [k_h], e.g. does not
have phonemic status, since it is an allophone of /k/. But in Mandarin
/k_h/ and /k/ are distinct phonemes, e.g. ge /k@/ 'a classifier' ~ ke
/k_h@/ "a quarter [of an hour]", both words being pronounced in 4th tone.
Indeed, even more interesting is the case where two languages share the
same (or similar range of sounds) but regard them differently from the
phonemic point of view. For example, both English and Welsh have [p],
[p_h] and [b]. Both languages pronounce initial voiceless plosives with
aspiration, e.g. Eng. pen [p_hEn]; Welsh: pen [p_hEn] "head". Both
languages have unaspirated plosives after [s]; but whereas English regards
the [p] in 'Spain' as a variant of the "same sound" as [kp_h], i.e. both
allophones of /p/, Welsh regards [p] as the "same sound" as [b] and write
'Sbaen' [spaIn], i.e. in Welsh [p] and [b] are allophones of the phoneme
[b]. English "feels" the opposition to be voiceless ~ voiced (with
aspiration as a conditioned variant of the voicless series); Welsh feels
the opposition to be, as in Mandarin & Gaelic, between aspirated and
unaspiated, with voicing or devoicing of the latter as conditioned
To return to [H]. What I meant is: Could you have, e.g. [lyi] in French (I
agree with Christophe that it's certainly pronounceable - but would it
'naturally' occur in French?) or must /y/ always be pronounced as [H] if it
occurs before a vowel? I.e. is [H] merely a conditional allophone of the
A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
[J.G. Hamann 1760]