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THEORY: vocalic h/voiceless vowels

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Monday, February 7, 2000, 21:31
Raymond Brown wrote:
> >I think that "syllabic [h]" would be a fair, if somewhat too vague, > >description of the "unvoiced vowels" one sometimes finds in American > >Indian languages. (One would also have to specify the quality of the > >vowel to make the description at all adequate.) > > Do these unvoiced vowels act as centers of syllables? If they do, > presumably they have some vocalic coloring (otherwise there'll be only one > unvoiced vowel) which seems to me to be a little more than merely "syllabic > [h]"
Yes, they serve as centers of syllables. I don't know my IPA ASCII well enough to transliterate the examples I have found in the "voiceless vowels" section of the wonderful "IPA Help" Windows program (does anybody still have the URL for the Web/RealAudio version?) but the examples they give, from Comanche, Enga, Cuaiquer, and Malayo, include voiceless turned omega, voiceless o, voiceless u, voiceless barred i and voiceless i, the last two in minimal contrast in a single language (Malayo). They do sound like vocalic h, but with appropriate vowel coloring (which is very difficult for me to discern, but there. Perhaps it's mostly there in its effect on surrounding segments, but it's there). ---------------------------------------------------------------- .................... ....................... "In the labyrinth of the alphabet the truth is hidden. It is one thing repeated many times." -- AOS ----------------------------------------------------------------