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Re: laterals (was: Pharingials, /l/ vs. /r/ in Southeast Asia)

From:Javier BF <uaxuctum@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 11, 2004, 14:33
>Except that you have the problem of having to compromise somewhere. If >you made a separate character for every possible distinction, you'd have >to have thousands of characters. :-) Using "actually distinguished in >a known language" is a useful compromise.
But the choices made are arbitrary. E.g. the symbol for Czech r^, which of course transcribes a sound that is contrasted with [r] in a known language, was finally dropped. While another symbol, [x\], which is phonemically superfluous because there's no known language (at least not that I know of) that contrasts it with [S], is there on the chart.
>> Why having symbols for the alveolopalatal >> fricatives at all, is there a language where those >> contrast with palatalized [S] and [Z]? What about >> the symbol for simultaneous h and sh, [x\], is >> there a language where it contrasts with [S]? > >It's quite distinct articulatorily from both /S/ and /x/. It is odd to >have a special symbol, tho, a tie-bar with /S/ and /x/ would be more >logical.
But, _phonemically_, it is thought of as of a kind of "sh". In Swedish, English "sh" is adapted by means of their "hsh". So a phonemic transcription as [S] would do perfectly well. The special symbol only tells you the _articulatory_ (i.e. _phonetic_) difference. Besides, Spanish mid e and mid o sound distinctly different from French open and close e's and o's (for a Spanish speaker ear, those French vowels sound as if you merged "ei", "ea", "ou", "oa", not like our "e" and "o"). Yet so far there's no IPA symbol for those distinct vowels, featured in the third most spoken language as well as in others (somewhere I've seen them symbolized by a small capital E and small capital omega, which I think are quite appropriate symbols that would fit very well in the IPA chart). Another common vowel sound for which there is no IPA symbol is the central a, which is the kind of a vowel featured in languages such as Spanish and Hindi. The IPA symbol [a] stands for the lowest _front_ vowel and sounds too front for my Spanish speaker ear, as if it had some amount of e-quality, so I don't feel really comfortable using it for our Spanish a (a good symbol for this central a could be a small capital A).
>But, I fail to see how you can have a "lateral stop" otherwise.
I can record a sample of it for you if you like. It's an interesting sound to hear.
>If the >sides of the tongue are raised completely, thus blocking the airstream, >then what's the difference between that and a regular stop?
Because what causes the lateral stop is not the raising and lowering of the sides of the tongue, but the widening and narrowing of the tongue.
>And in a >stop with lateral release, there *is* central blocking. If there >wasn't, it wouldn't be a stop! Laterals contrast by lateral closure and >non-laterals by central closure, but how can there be a contrast when >you have complete closure in both parts?
The difference is in the _sequencing_ of the closures. In a lateral, the central closure is kept all the way while the lateral release is being produced and only when the lateral is 'finished' the central closure is released. In a central plosive with lateral release, you first release an amount of air centrally and release an amount of it laterally. There's also the possibility of having a simultaneous central and lateral release.
>In other words >Lateral approximate: central closure + little or no lateral closure >Non-lateral approximate: No central closure + lateral closure > >Lateral fricative: Central closure + moderate lateral closure >Non-lateral fricative: Moderate central closure + lateral closure > >Lateral stop: Central closure + lateral closure >Non-lateral stop: Central closure + lateral closure
You have to define also _where_ the release of the air is produced, centrally or laterally, and this is what distinguishes the laterals from the other sounds. In a lateral stop, the central closure is kept while the lateral release is produced. In a central stop, the lateral closure is kept while the central release is produced.
>> Most taps/flaps and trills _are_ plosive, whether >> they are 'counted' as "plosives" or not. Castilian >> Spanish -rr- is nothing but a quick succession of >> alveolar d's, that is, a quick succession of alveolar >> stops. > >I wouldn't call it that! It's produced completely differently. -rr- is >not produced by raising and lowering the tongue in rapid succession, but >by the airstream causing the tip of the tongue to vibrate.
Not at all that differently. A plosive is defined by the _plosion_ not by the raising and lowering of the tongue, which happens in fricatives and approximants too. There's no way you can lower the whole tongue between the individual taps in a trill, because they are pronounced much more quickly than you would literally have time to perform that movement, so the plosions in a trill are produced by a vibratory movement of the tongue rather than a wide raising and lowering.
>A tap would >make sense to call a very brief stop, altho given that many languages do >distinguish between taps and stops, it seems logical to distinguish >them.
But we're mixing two different paramenters here: Degree of closure (plosive/fricative/approximant) is _not_ opposed to rhoticity (non-rhotic, tap, trill) - those are two different articulatory dimensions. Rhoticity is about "pulseness". If a plosive is held for long enough, it doesn't feel like a pulse (thus, non-rhotic), but if you pronounce it quickly it does (tap-like rhotic), and then you can have a row of pulses instead of a single one (trill-like rhotic). Graphically one could express this opposition this way: - (non-rhotic) . (tap-like) ... (trill-like) If you combine both dimensions, you get plosive non-rhotics [d], plosive taps [4], plosive trills [r], a fricative non-rhotics [D], a fricative taps [4_o], a fricative trills [r_o], an approximant non-rhotics [D_o], an approximant taps [4_o_o] and an approximant trills [r_o_o] (*). (*) I'm deliberately avoiding the symbol [r\] since it is unclear whether it is supposed to have inherent rhoticity or not (it's r-like shape seems to suggest an inherently rhotic, but in the IPA chart it is placed within a row where all the other members are not taken to have inherent rhoticity and no explicit mention as for its rhotic status is made) and because the symbol for rhoticity doesn't distinguish between the single-pulse and multiple-pulse kinds, so even if I used [r\] for the non-rhotic approximant and [r\`] for the rhotic approximant, I would still need a way to represent the approximant tap and the approximant trill separately.
>> English r is >> usually an apico-postalveolar approximant-flap, > >Approximant-flap? What's that mean? How can something be both a flap >and an approximant?
Hunh? Approximant and fricative taps are not rare in Spanish at all, they are perfectly valid and not uncommon allophones of /4/. Just don't touch the alveolar ridge with the tip of your tongue when pronouncing the tap and you get an apico-alveolar fricative/approximant tap instead of an apico-alveolar plosive tap. For an apico-postalveolar instead of an apico-alveolar, just curl the tip of the tongue so that it points towards the postalveolar are instead of towards the alveolar ridge. You do that all the time when you pronounce English initial r's. If you don't pronounce them like a flap, that is, quickly enough to make them look like a pulse, the sound does no longer feel rhotic and does no longer sound like an English r, but like a mildly retroflex y. I can record a sample of all the sounds I've just described, if you need to hear them with you own ears to be convinced. Cheer, Javier


Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>What _is_ rhoticity? (wa laterals (was: Pharingials etc))