Re: "Usefull languages"
|From:||Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 15:14|
On Tue, 12 Feb 2002 18:58:31 -0500
Aidan Grey <grey@...> wrote:
> At 11:01 PM 2/12/2002 +0100, Christophe wrote:
> >By the way, the French orthography is not that bad and pretty phonemic (and
> >good at showing some grammatical alternations that would look rather
> >strange if
> >one were to adopt a phonetic orthography :)) ). Compared to the English
> >orthography, it's the IPA :)) .
> It's certainly better than Irish (Old or Modern)! I've determined that,
> basically, one only pronounces every third letter. For example, gheobhaidh,
> 'will get', is pronounced /jowi/.
It's certainly something I've thought must be very difficult to learn.
Having had it crammed into me at school since I was 5 makes it second
nature to read (out loud, rather than understand) and pronounce, even if
my grasp of the language itself is rather tenuous.
Curiously, I don't think it's such a bad system: the long sequences
of vowels can usually be explained by showing that certain ones are
'glides', or better, leathan/caoil (velarised/palatalisd) indicators for
consonants they are adjacent to (e.g. the <e> and <a> in <gheobhaidh>),
while the apparantly large number of silent (or /h/-pronounced)
consonant sequences do a fairly good job of indicating
(1) the base form of the word before mutation e.g. "her house", <a teach>
is /A t'Ax/ ('=palatalisation) while "his house", <a theach> is /A
h'Ax/. Similarly "his eye" and "her eye" are phonetically /A hu:l'/
and /A su:l'/, spelt <a shúil> and <a súil>. Given only the "his" form
spelt phonetically, /a hu:l'/, it would not be clear whether it meant
"her /hu:l'/", "his /su:l'/", "his /tu:l'/", etc. Of course, this makes
you wonder, it this kind of notation of the base form necessary? It's
certainly aesthetically pleasing to me ;)
(2) pronounciation differences; you pronounce "gheobhaidh" as /jowi/, but I
pronounce it somewhere between /G'owi:/ and /G'ovi:M\/ (or maybe the /v/
is more like /v\/), which is probably just for my own amusement (I like
approximants), but certainly there are dialectical variations in <gh>,
<bh> and <dh>, and other wierd consonant sequences.
But yeah, it's a wierd system, but I think it's very cute too ;) It
used to be wierder before some (I think 1940?) spelling reform: e.g.
<trá> /trA:/ for "beach, strand" used to be spelt I think <tráth>, and
I think the extra <th> there is indefensible on either of the grounds I
> And Old Irish is worse, where one letter
> can represent three sounds: c = /c/, /g/, /X/. for example, nemed 'sacred
> grove' from Gaulish nemeton, is pronounced /neveD/.
Interesting... must study OI some day. What you say makes it look
systematic rather than just bad ;). Maybe the palatalised/velarised
distinction, e.g. of /c'/ vs. /c/, arose as allophones conditioned by
surrounding vowels, where the allophones became phonemes as a result of
a change in the vowel system removing the conditioning environment.
(I know what I'm trying to say but it's sufficently vague to make
difficult to verbalise... I have a feeling that the preceeding paragraph
just means "Perhaps the p/v distinction arose by, like ... some process,
ye know?" ;) )
Time to go to bed, methinks (yeah, it's 2am, but I'm not going to send
until the morning, hence the date on the mail)