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Re: Initial /?/ (was: Number)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 7, 2001, 17:49
At 6:09 pm -0700 6/8/01, J Matthew Pearson wrote:
>David Peterson wrote: > >> In a message dated 8/6/01 10:57:55 AM, pearson@HUMNET.UCLA.EDU writes: >> >> << Sure, in isolation. But we don't speak single words in isolation, we >> string them together. It's pretty easy to distinguish [?a] and [a] if >>they're >> >> preceded by another word, especially one which ends in a vowel (as all words >> in Tongan, Samoan and Hawai'ian do). That was Roger's point in the last >> sentence of the passage you quote. >> >> >> Yes, but say I went up to my friend and said, "I want to go to the >> movies." How on Earth would I be able to tell whether "I" began with a >> glottal stop or not? Would there be a noticeable difference? > >No, there wouldn't. At least, no audible difference, AFAIK.
Certainly not to anglophones as there is no contrastive difference in English. In fact, I personally do not use a glottal stop in such situations (I do pronounce one before initial vowels in German) - but some English speakers do. Unless I'm making a point in listening for it, it would pass unnoticed. But I'm not aware that there is any physical reason why the glottis has to be closed before uttering "I want to go to the movies"; if it is not closed, there can be no glottal stop preceeding /aj/. It seems to me that whether one preceeds such an utterance by closing one's glottis or not is largely dependent upon dialect and/or ideolect and, as it makes no difference to meaning, largely goes undetected in English. But I strongly suspects that speakers of those languages where the glottal plosive has phonemic status can well tell if a person pronounces a vowel with closed or open glottis at the onset; and, quite frankly, unless we have input from any such speakers, I don't think this thread's going to get much further forward. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================