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181Re: i and y in Quenya: two phonemes or one?

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  • Petri Tikka
    Aug 5, 2002
      --- In lambengolmor@y..., Ales Bican <ales.bican@s...> wrote:

      > I thought about it today: are sounds _i_ (as in _Quendi_) and _y_
      > (as in _Yavanna_) two phonemes or variants of one phoneme in
      > Quenya?

      In the positions you cite, I believe that they are different phonemes.

      > [...]

      > However, we have words like _aiya_. I am not convienced that this
      > can be an evidence of _y_ and _i_ occurring beside each other, as
      > _i_ is here a part of the diphtong _ai_. Furthermore, Tolkien also
      > spelled this sequence as _aia_ and _áya_, cf. _vaháya_ (LR:47),
      > _vahaiya_ (SD:247) and _vahaia_ (SD:312) (note that it is in fact
      > the same text). These spellings are not ambiguous.

      There is a situation that is very much like this in Finnish.
      Let me phrase this similarly to your statements:
      However, we have words like _paijata_ "stroke, pet" and _juoksi(j)a_
      "runner". I am not convienced that this can be an evidence of _j_ and
      _i_ occurring beside each other, as the _j_ between the vowels is only an
      orthographic phenomenon, not observed in spoken speech. Furthermore,
      some linguistics and common people would spell these sequences as
      _paiata_ and _juoksia_. These spellings are not ambiguous. The reason
      for this is that the _j_ sound in medial position between vowels isn't the
      same sound at all as the _j_ occuring in the beginning of words. It
      is a medial sound to ease the transition to the next vowel.

      > Hence I think the two sound occurring in _Quendi_ and _Yavanna_
      > are two variants of one invariant /i/ -- [i] being a vocalic allomorph
      > and [y] a consonantal one. Well, perhaps it was obvious. In Czech,
      > _i_ and _y_ are two phonemes, so I tend to treat them so. (And
      > perhaps it is not obvious at all; in that case I am prepared for any
      > corrections.)
      > Ales Bican

      Hence I think the two sounds occurring in _Quendi_ and _Yavanna_
      are not two variants of one invariant /i/ -- the vocalic [i] is an
      independent phoneme from [y], just as [w] is independent from
      [u], there being no correlation between them in "The Etymologies"
      or elsewhere. Besides, if your theory is true, why is it _áya_ and not
      **_aya_? So, IM(quite)HO, the usage of _y_ in the orthography of
      Quenya can be outlined thus:

      1. In the beginning of a word, and between single consonants,
      it stands for a vocalic consonant.
      2. After a consonant it palatalizes the preceeding cosonant.
      3. After a diphthong it stands for a medial easing sound.
      I don't know if this is right, but the usage of _j_ in the dialect
      around the city of Tampere (according to my understanding)
      would be exactly like the usage _y_ in Quenya.

      Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
      kari.j.tikka@...
      http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/
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