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Re: CHAT: General Question

From:dirk elzinga <dirk.elzinga@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 28, 2001, 15:33
On Tue, 27 Mar 2001, Shreyas Sampat wrote:

> I had also been wondering about the plausibility of a phonemic "rest", a > pause where no sound is produced. (or at least the volume of utterance > falls sharply) This popped into my head while I was thinking about my > newest conlanging project, an as-yet-unnamed tonal sort of thing where > absolute pitches are ...the term is lexical, I think... and some inflections > impose changes in nearby pitch, or general shifts up or down for the > duration of the sentence. I figured, with all this musicality, and three > phonemic vowel lengths, a phonemic rest would be in order as well. > Comments? Help? Please?
There are a couple of different answers here. First, it is often the case that speakers will perceive a pause in connected speech where there really isn't one. This is a parsing effect induced by our knowledge of word and phrase boundaries. (Of course, there are genuine pauses as well.) But I think you mean something else. On a strictly phonetic level, there is a short period of silence every time a voiceless stop is articulated. Take [p] in an utterance like [apa], for example. From the initial vowel to [p], the lips come together; this is the closure phase. Between [p] and the following vowel, the lips separate; this is the offset phase. Between closure and offset, there is a brief period of silence where there are no linguistically significant acoustic events taking place. So if your language has voiceless stops, it already has "rests" of this sort. Otherwise, the kind of pause in running speech that you seem to be thinking of is not attested, as far as I can tell, in natural languages. There is occasionally something like it in metered verse--especially nursery rhymes: Hickory, dickory dock [rest], The mouse ran up the clock [rest]. &c. But this shouldn't deter you from including it in your project. Dirk -- Dirk Elzinga "The strong craving for a simple formula has been the undoing of linguists." - Edward Sapir


Shreyas Sampat <nsampat@...>