Re: Ant: Re: Linguistics: Final /?/ and /h/
|From:||Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, June 21, 2005, 4:33|
> > Beyond that, I can't say for sure. Caucasus? NA Indian? The problem is
> > /-h/ is so easily elided and/or lost.
> Sanskrit (visarga - which, indeed, _only_ occurs finally)
> At least some Mayan languages, I think.
As an example, Bachajón Tseltal contrasts final /h/ and final /?/. Word
final /h/ occurs more often in careful speech, of course, since it is, as
mentioned, an easily lost sound. It's still underlyingly present; it'll show
up if you add suffixes, for example. Word final /?/ is sometimes lost and
sometimes retained; different words act differently.
Outside of the Mayan family but still in the same neck of the woods,
Misantla Totonac (San Marcos dialect) distinguishes vowel-final, /h/-final,
and /?/-final words. (In the Yecuatla dialect, it's a bit messier, since
word-final /h/ is neutralized to the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative
/K/, which is then optionally weakened back to /h/!)
I don't know to what degree these survive in rapid speech, but their
presence is probably clear from their effects on preceding vowels. /h/
lowers high vowels (/i/ -> /E/, /u/ -> /O/, for example), but only when it's
really an underlying /h/ (and not, for example, a weakened /K/). At least
some instances of /?/ laryngealize the preceding vowel. (I'm not really
clear on this, because I think laryngealization generally spreads rightward,
but I think that at least in 2nd person marking it spreads leftward.) Again,
this is only for words that are underlyingly /?/-final; Yecuatla allows
word-final /n/ to surface as /?/, but the presence of an underlying /n/ can
be inferred from the nasalization of the preceding vowel. (There are only
three vowel quantities, /i/, /a/, and /u/, but distinctive length and
laryngealization (!), along with lots of processes like lowering,
laryngealization, tensing, lengthening, shortening, and nasalization make it
quite the circus.)
Basically, it's a big mess that I don't understand, but there definitely is
a three-way distinction between final vowels, /?/, and /h/.
As for the original question, final /h/ and /?/ are certainly not rare. I
don't know if you'd call them "common", but they're not "weird" in any way.
It's not something you'd call up your friends to say, "Hey, I found a
language with word-final /?/", the way you would for, oh, laryngealized
vowels or something.
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