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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 >either. >> > >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?
No. 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 Italian. 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 variations. 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 phoneme /y/? Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================