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: Interdental /l/ - in ENGLISH

From:Mark Jones <markjjones@...>
Date:Saturday, March 5, 2005, 10:12
I'm Mark Jones, a phonetician at the University of Cambridge, and I just
spotted your posting on interdental /l/ on the CONLANG archive. I posted
the original query (and summary) on interdental /l/ on LINGUISTLIST. Very
interesting that the distribution of interdental /l/ in American English
appears to be verified, by at least some postings.

One point I feel I should make about interdental /l/ is that it is
inherently velarised, or perhaps more accurately pharyngealised. The
acoustic effect of both is similar, no language appears to contrast them,
and for women a smaller difference is likely to be involved as they have
smaller pharynxes relative to the rest of their vocal tract. As you
probably know, the average female vocal tract is not a scaled down version
of the male: the ratios of cavity sizes differ. The muscles of the tongue
are very complex, and their interaction is still poorly understood in
articulating various sounds, but the point is that advancing the tongue
tip may require a contraction of the posterior genioglossus muscle, and
that this (combined with other effects) can cause a pharyngeal
constriction. So interdentals may be "inherently" pharyngealised, and you
don;t need to try and make an additional velar constriction (which would
be hard). We don't notice this so much with fricatives as the small
constriction size prevents much acoustic interference from the back cavity
(where the pharyngealisation is), the fricative sound being determined
largely by the acoustic characteristics of cavity anterior to the

On the subject of interdental sounds due to coarticulation before
interdental /l/ or /TH/, e.g. in "funnel" or "health", European Spanish is
reported to have interdentals due to coarticulation, and I have variable
interdental coronals in the vicinity of my own interdental [TH], as I
think I said in my LINGUISTLIST summary.


Mark J. Jones
Department of Linguistics
University of Cambridge


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>markjjones@HOTMAIL.COM
Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>