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fortis-lenis (was: How to Make Chicken Cacciatore)

From:J. 'Mach' Wust <j_mach_wust@...>
Date:Friday, July 23, 2004, 9:59
On Thu, 22 Jul 2004 16:44:26 +0200, Andreas Johansson <andjo@...> wrote:

>Quoting "J. 'Mach' Wust" <j_mach_wust@...>: > >> On Thu, 22 Jul 2004 12:25:01 +0200, Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
>> >> >Quoting j_mach_wust <j_mach_wust@...>: >> > >> >> FWIK, the Swiss/Alemannic opposition of fortis and lenis is the same >> >> as in Finnish, even though the Alemannic opposition is represented as >> >> [d_0] vs. [t(:)], whereas the Finnish isn't called a fortis-lenis >> >> opposition and is represented as [t] vs. [t:]. >> > >> >Hm. I hear Finnish 't' as /t/, not /d/, which I'd expect if it were a >> >dental or alveolar voiceless non-aspirated lenis stop. I guess it might >> >be not lenis enough. >> >> What is a lenis? I don't know it for sure; I just know that the Swiss >> German short voiceless stops are caled lenes, and these are identical >> with Finnish /t, p, k/. > >_Lenis_ is Latin for "soft" - I guess "lenes" might be the pl? > >Anyway, fortis~lenis signifies a distinction in articulatory force; during >the production of a fortis sound, the muscles involved are more tense than >during the production of a lenis one. This, of course, isn't really a >binary distinction, but a continuum of possibilities, in which certain >languages pick to points to contrast
For what I know, nobody's ever succeeded in measuring that 'articulary force' (either in fortis-lenis or in tense-lax) (I'd be very happy to learn that this weren't true). That means that so far, there's not really a phonetic feature 'articulary force' (comparable to features such as 'aspiration' or 'voice'). So I think the terms 'fortis-lenis' are rather to be used on a level of phonemic analysis. They name the distinction between /p, t, k/ etc. and /b, d, g/ etc., a distinction that may vary from language to language. It may involve length, aspiration, or voice. IPA isn't really adequate to represent the fortis-lenis distinction, since it stresses the 'Frenchesque' point of view that the distinction is in the voicing.
>In the Germanic languages, voiced stops are generally pronounced with less >articulatory force than voiceless ones, and thus we say their lenis, and >the voiceless ones fortis. Many varieties of English, Swedish and German >have devoiced, wholly or partly, in some or all positions the voiced >stops, but thanks to the difference in "forticity" (not sure if that's a >word) been able to maintain the phonemic contrast even when aspiration >isn't at hand to disambiguate
Couldn't this be a length contrast (it it's neither voice nor aspiration)? Or is this really an instance of that mysterious 'articlatory force' feature?
>The most immediate explanation would seem to be that while these Finnish >sounds are lenis by the standards of Finnish (and apparently by those of >Swiss German), they're not by those of Swedish; the languages simply draw >the line at different points in the continuum.
That's exactly how I'd explain it. ===================================================== On Thu, 22 Jul 2004 05:49:02 -0700, Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...> wrote:
>Alsacians might confound "d" and "t", "b" and "p", etc.
That's interesting! Could the reason for this be that Alsacian German doesn't know voiced stops? My idea is that when they'd voicelessly pronounce /b, d, g/, other French would hear /p, t, k/. At least, I know that this is one of the typical features of the Swiss German accent in French, the ['frO_~:s:E 'fEd_0Eral] (instead of [fRA_~sE fede'Ral] - français fédérale), and I suppose that Alsacian could be similar to Swiss German in this respect (as in many others). g_0ry@_^s: j. 'mach' wust


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>