Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: partial letter replacement in languages?

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Monday, December 13, 2004, 10:49
On Saturday, December 11, 2004, at 09:16 , Rodlox wrote:

> ----- Original Message ----- > From: Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> > To: <CONLANG@...> > Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 12:18 AM > Subject: Re: partial letter replacement in languages? > > >> On Friday, December 10, 2004, at 05:05 , Rodlox wrote: >> >> [snip] >>> >>> what I meant was, such as -> >>> >>> /Murad/ becomes /Murat/ * >>> ..yet... >>> /Abdulhamid/ does not become /Abtulhamid/ > >> The Murad who was a student of mine last year never became a Murat at any >> time :) > > my apologies, then. > > I've been reading history books published in various countries, and I had > noticed the d->t shift (such as Murad/Murat) in, at least, the Turkish > Republic.
Right - you are referring to two quite different phenomena in you email of 10th Dec. Let's start with _Murad_. I am sure the _Murad_ I taught would write his names as _Murat_ if he was writing in Turkish and his name was in the nominative case. But in English he always called himself _Murad_. What we have in modern Turkish is precisely the same phenomenon that we have in modern German, Russian and Breton quite a few other languages. *The phonemic distinction between voiced & voiceless obstruents is lost in word final position: they are _all_ devoiced.* (Some language voiced them all) (Obstruent = any sound involving a constriction (whether full or partial) in the airflow, i.e. plosives, fricatives and affricates) Thus, if we take a German example, both _Rat_ "counsel" and _Rad_ "wheel" are pronounced the same [RA:t]. But when a grammatical ending, for example the genitive, is added, the two stems are pronounced differently: Rates ['RA:t@s] ~ Rades [RA:d@s]. This happens also in Russian and some other languages. Many languages, like German and Russian, do not reflect this in the spelling, preferring to spell the morpheme the same way. Turkish, however, does show this in spelling. Thus, in Turkish, the name {Murad} is written thus before the dative case ending -a (_Murada_) but the nominative is pronounced and _Murat_.
> > I did not mean to imply that it was true for all Turkic or Arabic > languages...
The two groups of languages are vey different and related. Turkish has borrowed some words from Arabic as a result of the Turks' adopting Islam, but the language is unrelated. AFAIK this devoicing of final obstruents does not occur in any variety of Arabic. How widespread it is among other Turkic languages, I do not know. [snip]
> >> In any case I would hardly expect /bd/ (two voiced plosive) to change to >> /bt/ (but I would expect /bt/ to be assimilated to /bd/). > > ah. > > if I might ask, what is /bt/ that is could be assimilated, whereas > /bd/ (a > voiced plosive) could not? *curious*
Because one plosive is voiced and the other voiceless. English seems to tolerate this, for example, _obtain_ is not pronounced either ads *optain nor as *obdain. In fact in English the /t/ remains voiceless and there is mild assimilation: the /b/ does suffer some devoicing, but not sufficient to become [p]. But in many languages if two obstruents (not just plosives) are continguous they must either both be voiced or voiceless - not a mix. This process is called _assimilation_. Assimilation may be progressive as in English where -s is pronounced [s] of voiceless sounds as in _cats_ /k&ts/ but as [z] after voiced sounds as in _dogs_ /dogz/.. Or it may regressive as in Latin where both /k/+/s/ --> /ks/ and /g/+/s/ --> /ks/, for example: pax /pa:ks/ (gen. pacis /pa:kis/) ~ rex /re:ks/ (gen. regis /re:gis/). Thus in very many languages if in a compound /b/ would come next to /t/ it would either change tp /pt/ (the most common change, I believe) or to /bd/. Full assimilation occurs when one sound becomes the same as the next one. This is common in Italian, cf. notte "night" <-- nocte(m) /nokte/ which shows full regressive assimilation. Ray =============================================== =============================================== 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" ]