Why "y" ain't arbitrary (was: Intergermansk - Traveller's Phrasebook)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, February 6, 2005, 20:30|
On Sunday, February 6, 2005, at 02:10 , Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 05, 2005 at 05:42:45PM -0800, Gary Shannon wrote:
>> As to whether "y" in that context is a vowel or a
>> consonant, the choice seem pretty arbitrary to my
>> untrained ear.
It is not arbitrary at all. Phonologically it is a consonant.
>> I classify the sound as a vowel. If
>> that does not agree with convention then so be it.
>> I'm not an expert, and that classification works for
Maybe - but if you do not want to be misunderstood and, indeed, do not
want to misunderstand other people, it is preferable IMO to use words in
ways that others do.
>> I do pronounce "R" quite distinctly, not in the
>> East Coast, or Bostonian style at all.
> It's not a vowel because it does not constitute a syllable nucleus.
> The word "year" has only one syllable.
Yes, indeed. From the phonological point of view, vowels are units which
function at the center of syllables or, as Mark say, the nucleus of a
syllable. Unless Gary pronounces _year_ as _two_ syllables, which I doubt,
the |y| cannot be a vowel.
> The particular type of
> quasi-vowel consonant sound represented by "y" in the word "year" is
> called a
> "glide"; /w/ is another one.
From a phonological point of view, the units units that function at the
margins of syllables are consonants. More formally these "glides" `are
approximants: [j] is a palatal approximant ans [w[ labio-velar approximant.
Gary is probably thinking in terms of _phonetic_ and not phonological
definitions of vowel and consonant. The phonetic definitions are omewhat
different and in order to avoid confusion, the phonetician Kenneth Pike
coined the terms vocoid and contoid:
VOCOID - a sound, lacking in closure or narrowing sufficient to produced
CONTOID - a sound produced either by closure in the vocal tract or by
sufficient narrowing to cause audible friction.
It will thus be seen that approximants - e.g. [l], [r], [j], [w] - are
vocoids (i.e. 'phonetic' vowels). Indeed, in some languages, e.g. [l] and/
or [r] can act as syllabic nuclei (phonological vowels).
So, in short, the |y| in _you_ and _year_ is [j], which is a vocoid and in
those two words function phonologically as a consonant.
BTW I changed the subject line as this has little to do with Intergermansk.
It seems to me that how "Thank you" is expressed in that language is up
to Pascal. If anyone who does not like Pascal's version can always compose
their own 'inter-Germanic'. Tho not so popular as 'inter-Romance' conlangs,
'inter-Germanic' conlangs have been devised in the past and, I have no
doubt, will continue to be in the future.
Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
which is not so much a twilight of the gods
as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]