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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 > that > > /-h/ is so easily elided and/or lost. > > And > > 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. -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00