Re: rhotic miscellany (was: Advanced English + Babel text)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Friday, November 5, 2004, 7:21|
On Thursday, November 4, 2004, at 02:49 , Sally Caves wrote:
> Hi, Ray. Long time.
Yep - nice to 'see' you back on Conlang :)
>> I have. The priest - he was a youngish man - who married my son &
>> daughter-in-law (she's French) almost a dozen years back had a most
>> vigorous uvular trill. It was, of course, used by Edith Piaff (je ne
>> regrette rien....) - but it is very rare now and usually considered the
>> mark of speakers even more antique than me :)
> :) Antique is a state of mind that I don't think you succumb to.
Thanks - I was meaning it strictly in chronological terms. I retired last
> never heard it in France, but if it's true, it's quite wonderful.
I suspect that priest is still trilling his uvular. He may have adopted it
because it carries further than the more common voiced uvular fricative
which is important, I guess, if you're trying to get yourself heard in a
large church. Anyway, I agree, it is good its not dead.
>> Actually my elder grandson (who is more or less bilingual) used to have
>> delightful uvular trill, but his 'French R' has now become the familiar
>> uvular approximant (there's practically no friction with the modern urban
>> French R). I'm told - tho I don't know how true this is - that this is
>> typical of young children: to start with trilling the uvular but
>> to lose the trill.
> Interesting. And here I have to work hard to achieve it.
That's always the bugbear when trying to pick up new sounds as an adult.
> I'm not happy
> with approximations; it has to sound like a little motor in the back of
> throat. I find I can produce it best before back vowels, when the back of
> my tongue is relaxed and lowered to accommodate the tip of the uvula.
My attempts very - on a good day, they're OK.
>> You also find it, as I expect you know, among certain north Walian
> Actually, I didn't know that. I stayed strictly in Swansea, with
> forays into Aberystwyth. The only "gog" I knew was a tall chap who was so
> socially frightening that I didn't have many conversations with him. I
> about the peculiar pronunciation of "y" in the north in words like dydd,
> some of the differences in vocabulary.
The high unrounded central vowel [i\] is common to all north Wales; but
the uvular trilled [R] is not. The more common pronunciation is the apical
trilled [r] as in the south. But the uvular [R] is used in certain
localities. I am afraid I do not know which ones, but I have come across
people who do use it. I have been told that this variant is not found in
> I've been to Caernarvon, Bangor, and Rhyl, but I
> must have been too dazed by the beauty of it all to note this particular
> feature. :)
It is not common to all these regions.
> People in Wales would almost always start speaking to me in
> English when I started a conversation in Welsh, noting, I think, my
> vocabulary (as j.'mach' wust describes in his post!).
Those people who use the uvular trill, do so also when they speak English.
My guess that you simply did not come across any speakers who used the
> inveighed against it), but it was just so overwhelmingly used. 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.
> I hope "nucular" doesn't catch on and become dominant.
...and I hope it doesn't cross the Atlantic :)
>> Certainly the lingually trilled /r/ is still alive in the south of
>> especially in rural areas.
> Yes, that I knew. What would be really interesting is to know when the
> French ceased to pronounce some of its endings and why, and in what order.
> You mention the dropping of the "r" in -er and -ier below, but what about
> the disappearance of final "t" and "s"?
Final -t seems to become silent in the 12th century, except of course in
liaison. About the middle of the 13th final -s had similarly become silent
and so the process continued on into the 14th cent.
> The spelling, I've read, is
> fourteenth century. What started to drop out, and why did the spelling
> conventions persist?
> I would imagine this took place over a long time,
> hence the fierce clinging to the older spellings. But of course, we
> speakers still insist on our precious "bought," hundreds of years after
> "gh" was no longer heard in this word.
Exactly! Both French & English spellings basically reflect how the
language was spoken some 7 or 800 hundred years ago. But the preservation
of older spellings has in its turn affected pronunciation. For example, in
English "waistcoat" had become pronounced 'weskit', but the Victorian
bourgeoisie that this too vulgar so the spelling pronunciation no prevails.
When I was young (chronologically) everyone called a _tortoise_ a "tortus"
- now I often hear ['tO:tOjz} - ach!
Similarly in French, I was taught back in the 1950s that _août_ was
pronounced [u]. In france now it is almost invariably [ut].
>> We use a modified form of X-SAMPA known as CXS (Conlang X-SAMPA :)
>> [r] = apical lingual trill
> "Apical" meaning "tip of the tongue"?
>>  = linguo-dental tap or flap (Spanish single /r/)
>> [r`] = retroflex tap
>> [r\] = the dental/alveolar approximant ("English /r/")
> meaning American retroflex r?
I meant the /r/ of southern England - but it certainly sounds the same to
me as the normal American /r/, tho some LeftPonders tell me there is a
>> [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
>> 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.
>>> In Teonaht, |r| is a retroflex tap. You curl the tongue back in the
>>> mouth and bring it forward across the back part of the alveolar ridge.
>> [r`] :)
>>> anybody know of a natural language that does this?
>> Hindi/Urdu has both the retroflex flap [r`] as well as the dental flap
>> . I believe it is quite common in the languages of the Indian
> Aw shucks! :)
I imagine in fact that if a sound is at all humanly possible some language
somewhere in the world will have it.
> I'm glad to see your website, Ray. Is this relatively new?
Just over a year - I am trying to revise it all, but what with looking
after our parish website & my wife's, my own tends to take the back seat
Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
which is not so much a twilight of the gods
as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]