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Initial /?/ (was: Number)

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Monday, August 6, 2001, 4:15
Jesse Bangs/Yoon Ha Lee et al. wrote:

>> I was trying to figure out how in the heck you would hear a [?] >> before a vowel <rueful look> since the prof for that class told us >> that technically when you say a vowel (without something else >> before >> it??) there's always a glottal stop, so if you said [qaItSaref] by >> itself, how would you know? :-/ The somewhat tentative fix for >> that >> was to make {q} [?] between two vowels, [x] otherwise. <looking >> around hopefully> >> >> YHL > >I like the tentative fix myself, but I don't think there's a problem with >having phonemic initial /?/. *My* phonetics teacher said that it is >possible to pronounce a vowel-initial word without a glottal stop, though >he might have said that no languages actually make use of that >distinction. If you want to keep {q} fundamentally a stop, you could >replace it with something stronger initial positions, like a pharyngeal >stop.
I suspect there are plenty of languages with /?-/ : /0-/ contrast, provided they also contrast in other positions. Tonga, Samoa, Hawaiian to my knowledge. It's certainly audible in the flow of speech; in list pronunciation there might be a tendency, as in English, for automatic glottal onset. It would even be possible to have a language where, although glottal onset is automatic, when you add a prefix some forms have /?/, others don't; so it must be there underlyingly. E.g. (made up forms) [?imis] [paka?imis] vs. [?itun] [pakaitun]