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Re: Relative sonority of rhotics vs lateral liquids

From:Alex Fink <000024@...>
Date:Thursday, November 20, 2008, 22:57
On Thu, 20 Nov 2008 17:12:23 -0500, Eldin Raigmore
<eldin_raigmore@...> wrote:

>OK, a BTW question. > >It's my impression that nearly every rhotic is either at the uvular or the >retroflex PoA, or is articulated in the tap/flap or trill or non-lateral
>MoA. In fact, I'd leave out the "nearly". >Is this correct?
Let me concentrate on the PoA question. You may or may not believe that rhoticity is the property of having a (relatively) low third formant -- I think Ladefoged doesn't, though he concedes that it characterises a big chunk of the rhotics well. But suppose you did. The third formant is the third resonant frequency of the vocal tract, and the mode at that frequency would look like the third picture in if the vocal tract were a simple tube. To lower the third formant you want to narrow the tube at one of the points where the amplitude of its mode is maximal, i.e. 1/5 or 3/5 or 5/5 of the way along the vocal tract (from larynx to lips). It turns out that in the vocal tract these points of maximal amplitude are around the uvula, behind the alveolar ridge, and at the lips. The first two of these are the canonical PoAs you named, where we get rhotics. Labials aren't good rhotics -- I guess because a constriction at the very end of the tract lowers _every_ formant, not just the third one relatively? -- but this is what's supposed to be behind [v\] as a rhotic in some English Englishes. (I forget the source of this, sorry). As for your other questions, Google was eager to show me a discussion on the list from 2004: Perhaps you'll get something of it. Alex