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Need some help with terms: was "rhotic miscellany"

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Friday, November 5, 2004, 17:14
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ray Brown" <ray.brown@...>

> > Like our >> "lie/lay" confusion that is fast becoming standard, alas, in the US. > > The confusion is quite an old one in the UK. I think if prescriptivists > had not insisted on _lie_ (intrans.) ~ lay (trans.), _lay_ would have > become the norm for both long ago. My parents used only _lay_, reserving > _lie_ exclusively for "telling a falsehood". This seems to be common to > colloquial dialect over much of Britain.
It's an old confusion. In early ME, or in the transition from OE to ME, I believe, "lay" and "set" were established as transitive alternatives to the intransitives "lie" and "sit." But the confusion has abounded since then; you see it in Renaissance English and later, and the 18th-century grammarians made it a "rule" for standard English. In formal writing, especially among my dissertationers, I insist on it, and I hope that doesn't stir John Cowan's sense of elitist prescriptivism. :), especially since even I am slipping into this tendency, but orally, never literarily. Because it is so prevalent, I believe the distinction will die, and "lay" will cover the intransitive meaning as well. Interestingly, the same thing is not happening with "set" in educated writing. This may be due to the fact that "lie" (sustain a prostrate or prone position) shares a meaning with its homonym "lie" (prevaricate), as you suggest, whereas "sit" has no prominent alternative meaning. Ray:
>>> [R\] = uvular trill >>> [R] = uvular approximant and/or voiced uvular fricative >>> [X[ = voiceless uvular fricative >> >> What does [x] mean, then? > > [x[ is the voiceless velar fricative, and [G] is the voiced velar > fricative.
I knew that; I was confused by the capital "x," which is different, I now realize, from [G]. I had better reconsider the difference between uvular and velar. I have been confusing these terms as a number of you conlangers have pointed out to me. Now that I'm getting good at my uvular trill, :) I see that there is a subtle difference between the velar and the uvular, whereas I had simply thought that [x] and [R] were the voiceless and voiced. This distinction is perhaps harder to make for English speakers since we don't normally have [X] and [R]. I still find it difficult to see much difference between [x] and [X]. My [X] comes out as a voiceless uvular trill. If I say Bach, however, I find the fricative issuing from the soft palate and NOT the uvula, though, sans trill.
>>> The symbol ` is used to show rhotacized or r-colored vowels: [a`], [@`], >>> [i`] etc. >> >> As in "idear"? "He had an idear I liked, and that was to go to Africar >> in >> the winter." My Swansea barrister friend would say this, and my >> Bostonian >> friend says it as well. > > That looks to me more like the 'intrusive r' - it's common in dialects > that don't use retroflex vowels. I mean the -ere in a word like _here_ in > a rhotic dialect.
What I need help with is understanding "rhotic" and especially "approximant." Is rhotacized the same as rhotic? Does rhotacized mean a pulling back of the tongue to form the whisper of a retroflex "r"? (whereas "rhotic" means "having to do with r's and their differences)? Somebody else told me that my American "r" (in "American" and "car") was probably an approximant, and he distinguished it from a "retroflex." Have I misunderstood him? (Can't remember who it was; I'm trying to consolidate my responses into one big one here.) If I REALLY retroflex my "approximant" r, I sound like some midwesterners I know. You refer to the uvular "approximant" above, with [R]. What's an approximant? A sound made where the point of articulation is almost reached but isn't? Ray:
> I imagine in fact that if a sound is at all humanly possible some language > somewhere in the world will have it.
It used to be called "A natural language already did it even worse." ANADEW Sally


Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
John Cowan <jcowan@...>