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The joys of (re-)discovery

From:taliesin the storyteller <taliesin@...>
Date:Friday, May 18, 2001, 21:13
Thanks to my getting hold of the Handbook of the IPA (recommended,
especially for the overviews of several languages' sound systems in
the middle half) I've started analyzing the sound system of my conlang
târuven (that's a-circumflex oh ye cursed by the seven bit fiend!). Boy
was I surprised. Preliminary results at

The superscript h's after voiced consonants should have a hook on the
top of the stem but I ain't usin' no unicode, kiddies, so squint and
imagine they're there.

for phonetics/phonology jargon, and for general linguistic
jargon; a good dictionary might be worth looking at too.]

Point 1: I never realized breathiness/aspiration patterned like that!
<h> before a consonant is preaspiration, <h> after is what is generally
thought of as aspiration/breathiness.

Half of the occurences are due to protecting the voicing of final /b/,
/d/ and /g/, but still, I've always thought it was rare.

Aspirated <f> only occurs once, in <fhar> "the color violet". The f in
question is not pronounced like an ordinary f, but more research is
needed to determine what's up with that one word... Preaspirated <n>
is likewise only found in one word, the onomatopoetic <hni>, and
preaspirated <v> only in {hvenn} "three".

Point 2: only one word was palatalized, {t,ip}, all other uses of the
palatalization-mark <,> can be explained away as diphthongs!

The word is onomatopoetic, after the whistley sound of a small bird, and
cannot really be described well by other phones, neither [kx] -> {kxip}
nor [tS] -> {tcip}... are there other minimal pairs or is this 'un all
alone? More research needed.

Point 3: <h> not affecting any consonant can be explained away as
breathiness-marks on the following vowel everywhere except in the final
coda of a word.

The problem here is the exception. I wasn't aware that târuven had
anything in common with sanskrit, which has a word for this phenomenon,
namely `visarga' (a lovely word in and of itself of course...) Out of
the 342 words that end in a vowel in the (albeit tiny) dictionary in
my possession, 16 have the visarga, so that feature is probably for
real, but I'll still check with my informants.

So, what's was the point of all of this you might wonder. Well, you all
got some links to good dictionaries on linguistics, and I hope I managed
to convey why not having 100% control of a language nor generating words
on the fly nor writing the phonology in stone at an early stage can be
worthwhile; lately I've felt much like a field-linguist must feel, the
language is there and you really can't see the why or how of it, just
guess at earlier stages and possible connections. Now take the lexicon
for instance... :)