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Re: Most phonetically beautiful sentence in a natlang

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  • Leonardo Castro
    ... You re welcome! As I m not a native anglophone, I searched for the definition of this word that I have never heard/seen before. But being not a native is
    Message 1 of 46 , Aug 27, 2013
      2013/8/26 R A Brown <ray@...>:
      > On 26/08/2013 01:59, Leonardo Castro wrote:
      >>
      >> Although I find Italian beautiful sounding, I feel the
      >> Is "mellifluous" a perfect synonym of "beautiful" to you
      >> all?
      >
      >
      > No, it is not.
      >
      > Thank you for drawing our attention to our rather loose use
      > of the word.

      You're welcome! As I'm not a native anglophone, I searched for the
      definition of this word that I have never heard/seen before.

      But being not a native is probably no excuse, because I see now that
      the equivalent word occurs in Portuguese as well: "melífluo".

      Maybe some people use "mellifluous" as simply "pleasant" because honey
      is pleasant.

      > The subject line refers to to phonetic
      > _beauty_, not specifically to smoothness or fluidity. So
      > what adjective should we be using?

      Is there a problem with "beautiful"? I guess that, as "beautiful" is
      rarely used to refer to men, it's somewhat related to the idea of
      "femininity", and then to smoothness. Is that right?

      Me, I tend to perceive too types of "beauty" in languages. I'm going
      to call them "staccato beauty" and "mellifluous beauty" from now.

      I like American English and French because they sound "mellifluous":
      the words link to each other and, if two phones are harsh together,
      one of them is omitted or changed to another that match the other
      better. In AmE, for instance, stops change into flaps, loose
      aspiration or have their release replaced by a glottal co-stop.

      OTOH, I like Italian, Japanese and Swahili because they sound
      "staccato", that is, each syllable is highlighted, each sound is
      carefully pronounced. And that's what I like in German as well.

      Mandarin sounds as something in between to me...

      Interstingly, Brazilian Portuguese lost most of the "uncomfortable"
      consonant clusters still present in European Portuguese ("obje(c)to",
      "ó(p)timo", "fa(c)to", etc.) and is also much more syllable-rhythm
      than EP. So, I guess that BP sounds more "staccato" and resembles CV
      languages. As a BP native, I naturally don't know what BP "sounds
      like".

      >
      > I thought of _euphonic_ or _euphonious_; but those synonyms
      > merely mean "agreeable in sound." This does not necessarily
      > imply beauty.
      >
      > I looked for "calliphony" in my dictionary, but could not
      > find it. However, the term καλλιφωνία (kalliphōnía) is
      > attested in ancient Greek; and a quick google revealed that
      > the noun _calliphony_ and the adjectives _calliphonic_ and
      > _calliphonious_ do have a marginal existence :)
      >
      > Therefore, in my previous emails on this thread please read
      > _calliphonic_ where I wrote _mellifluous_ ;)

      :-)

      >
      >
      > --
      > Ray
      > ==================================
      > http://www.carolandray.plus.com
      > ==================================
      > "language … began with half-musical unanalysed expressions
      > for individual beings and events."
      > [Otto Jespersen, Progress in Language, 1895]
    • Leonardo Castro
      ... Just imagine that, for some random fashion, it starts to be considered cute to pronounce non-flapped intervocalic t and to omit final r in AmE . So,
      Message 46 of 46 , Aug 29, 2013
        2013/8/29 Roger Mills <romiltz@...>:
        > Somewhere in my ancient research I read of a tribal language in Indonesia where the men pronounced the /s/ phoneme as [s]. while the women used [h]. I don't think that would lead to too much confusion.
        >
        > Robin Lakoff, years ago, and Deborah Tannen (IIRC) have pointed out different intonation patterns for women in Amer.English.

        Just imagine that, for some random fashion, it starts to be considered
        "cute" to pronounce non-flapped intervocalic "t" and to omit final "r"
        in AmE . So, women could start to pronounce "better" as [b'Et@] while
        men would avoid this "non-masculine" pronunciation and pronounce
        [b'E4@r].

        Actually, there is at least one pronunciation features apparently more
        associated with young females in BrP, the elongation of nasals; listen
        to people imitating it in the following video, at times 4:15 and 5:07:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRyCUu5lHiY

        This video shows the parts of two interviews with humorists where they
        imitate several BrP regional accents. They are somewhat exaggerated
        the most typical regional features, but I think that the imitations
        really give a good idea of what the real accents sound.

        (I had previously sent this message only to Roger but I intended to
        send to the list.)

        >
        >
        >
        > ________________________________
        > From: Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <tsela.cg@...>
        > To: CONLANG@...
        > Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 5:31 AM
        > Subject: Re: Most phonetically beautiful sentence in a natlang
        >
        >
        > On 29 August 2013 11:04, Alex Fink <000024@...> wrote:
        >
        >> The language is now called Garifuna, and apparently most of the
        >> speaker-gender contrasts are obsolescent, though it seems to still survive
        >> robustly enough in the singular pronouns: men have 1sg _au_, 2sg _amürü_,
        >> 3sg _ligía_, women 1sg _nugía_ 2sg _bugía_ 3sg _tugía_. (_ü_ is /1/ I
        >> think.)
        >>
        >>
        > Such speaker-gender contrast can be very stable actually. Cue for instance
        > Japanese, where it's well known that males and females will use different
        > sets of personal pronouns (although some personal pronouns are somewhat
        > neutral and can be used by both). It goes further, with differences in
        > grammar and lexicon as well, although one cannot talk about different
        > languages.
        >
        > Gender "diglossia" is not an unknown phenomenon, although it usually
        > appears as dialectical differences at most (slight phonological and grammar
        > changes, often different lexemes as used by men and women). Typically men
        > will know the women's dialect and vice-versa, but they'll never speak it,
        > except when quoting a member of the opposite sex.
        >
        > Such a phenomenon appears usually in societies with very strict gender role
        > distinctions, especially ones where men and women don't often interact with
        > each other. The relative isolation of the male and female communities
        > results in effectively two partially separate linguistic groups, whose
        > lects start to diverge. The strict distinction in gender roles and
        > behaviours in the culture ensures that the divergence stays stable: the
        > different speech patterns become seen as part of the male or female
        > identity. And indeed, I read that in societies where such diglossia used to
        > be common and stable for centuries, a change in cultural behaviour in the
        > form of a loss of the traditional gender role distinctions will usually
        > result in a (quite rapid) loss of the male and female language
        > distinctions: the two dialects will merge again in a single form, although
        > some small differences may linger longer than others.
        > --
        > Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.
        >
        > http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
        > http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
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