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131758"Tracheal" consonants: a curiosity?

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  • Fran├žois CHAUVET
    Jun 1, 2005
      Hello,

      I was designing the phonetic inventory for a Conlang (no name yet), which
      I wished would

      correspond to my (somewhat) unarticulated natural voice (in fact, I can
      speak French almost

      without moving my lips). This is how I speak, and microphones are no help:
      they just amplify

      what does not exist.
      So, I chose to have "semi-rounded" vowels (easy, although I don't know of
      any IPA symbol for

      them). As for consonants, I kept bilabials because they are very primary
      sound, but moved

      alveaolars back to retroflexes, and velars back to uvulars. I hesitated
      about pharyngeals:

      while I have many Arab friends who pronounce them without difficulty, I
      never could; but I

      kept them as a possibility (maybe dialectal?). And that was OK, with a bit
      of training.
      (BTW, I also envisioned accepting clicks, which are not that difficult --
      but that would

      have made a huge phonetic inventory).

      But then came a car crash (BTW, never ever forget to fasten your seat
      belt). I had my whole

      oesophagus and stomach removed, my pharynx was shortened, and I had to use
      a tracheostomic

      canula to breathe, during over 8 months. Now I'm all right, thanks.
      But the opening in my trachea is not yet closed. There is a thin skin over
      it, which will

      take several months to re-become plain skin.

      The consequences of it are (1) pharyngeals are well beyond my reach, and
      (2) I can now

      articulate what I call "tracheal consonants" -- namely a plosive which I
      could denote by

      [q\\] and a fricative which I could denote by [X\\]. Both are unvoiced,
      but since the vocal

      chords were left untouched, there is still some air left to make a voiced
      version of these

      (although much less voiced than a real pulmonar voiced consonant).
      I'm trying to make some record (MP3 or other) of these sounds; but I don't
      like my voice on

      record (It is at least half an octave higher-pitched than what I can hear
      through the sull

      bones). Since it is obviously difficult to find someone having had the
      same surgery AND

      interested in conlanging...

      Now, is this a pure curiosity? Are there any natlangs with such
      consonants? These do

      resemble glottals, but aren't: can they be considered allophones, e.g.
      [q\\] as allophone of

      [?]? The medics don't understand why I seem so interested in producing
      such "noises" (I must

      admit they sound like eructation when improperly pronounced). How
      far "back in the throat"

      is it possible to utter some "reasonable" consonant?

      Thank you for any advice.
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