Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

That pesky H again (was: varia)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, February 4, 2000, 19:27
At 11:30 am -0700 4/2/00, Ed Heil wrote:
>BP Jonsson wrote:
>> No no. The problem with [h] is that it meets one of the criteria of >> approximants: **lack of oral friction**. > >This kind of negative and vague "criterion" makes no sense. One >might as well and as usefully say that [h] meets one of the criteria >for clicks, which is that it is not produced by oral articulation of a >pulmonic egressive airstream, or that [h] meets one of the criteria >for labial stops, which is that it is neither a velar or an alveolar >stop.
I agree - it kind of makes [h] fit all sorts of categories!
>Surely the relevant "criterion" for an approximant would be: the >articulators are close, but not close enough to produce turbulence >(that would make a fricative).
That has certainly been my understanding of approximant also. But even if one takes a narrower definition of approximant to mean, as Philip says, 'lack of oral friction', then this is surely complementary to the definition of fricative given by Dirk: a sound where friction is produced in the oral cavity. This means, as far as I see it, [h] and other glottal, epiglottal & pharyngeal sounds cannot be described meaningfully as either fricative _or_ approximant! So what is [h]? I maybe, I guess, an old-timer, but I can see no reason to depart from what I have understood both 'fricative' and 'approximant' to mean.
>That would also explain why it is >unmarked for approximants to be voiced: because an unvoiced >approximant is virtually inaudible, due to the lack of said >turbulence.
>Under this criterion, [h] is a glottal fricative, as our friends in >the IPA agree,
And until I'm given a plausible alternative explanation, I see no reason to disagree with them. [....]
> >Granted, but we need not complicate this further by means of muddled >definitions which obfuscate what might have been simple and clear :)
But methinks, Ed, some people just hate things being clear & simple?
>> In Ancient Greek /h/ is/was a prosody "voicelessness of initial >> vowel", > >I did not know this. Are you saying that the "(" mark did not in >fact indicate an initial [h]?
I don't know exactly what Philip means, but I say that "(" marked initial [h], but not initial /h/ I think the ancient Greeks were showing an intuitive awareness of the function of [h] in their language when they chose to mark it with a diacritic rather than a separate letter. It seems to me to more simply explain (1) many features of the language if [h] is regarded as a prosody rather than a phoneme in ancient Greek, cf the word for "hair": H Nom: trik-s --> thriks H Gen. trik-os --> trikhos and the verb "to have" H pres. eko: --> ekho: (I have) H fut. ekso: --> hekso: (I shall have) A lot of irregularities suddenly disappear :) Ray. (1) I try to split infinitives where-ever possible :) ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================