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202Re: i and y in Quenya: two phonemes or one?

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  • Petri Tikka
    Aug 10, 2002
      --- In lambengolmor@y..., Ales Bican <ales.bican@s...> wrote:
      > Petri Tikka wrote:
      > > 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_.
      > **So the _j_ is not pronounced there, right? Speaking of which, what
      > is it like in Finnish? I do not know a lot about it. Does Finnish have
      > j as a separate phoneme distict to /i/?

      The _j_ is an easening sound here, it is sometimes not pronounced
      at all, but most often it is a gliding sound to help the transition to the
      next vowel after an _i_. The gliding sound is not the same as the _j_
      that is not next to an _i_. In Finnish, /j/ and /i/ are seperate phonemes,
      eg. _paju_ "willow" is never pronounced with an _i_.

      > > 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.
      > **Well, is [w] really independent from [u]? Now that I think about
      > it, is [w] not just a variant of [u]? These two sounds are very
      > similar. As far as I am aware [w] occurs only before vowels and [u]
      > only before consonants, and we never find combinations -uw- or
      > -wu- in Quenya.

      Of course they are very similar. They probably never happen to
      be beside each other because of euphony, just as [g] and [k]
      are never met together: [g] can only occur with [ñ].


      > > 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.
      > **Do you mean "between single vowels" like in _yúyo_ "both"?

      Yes, that's what I meant.

      > > 2. After a consonant it palatalizes the preceeding cosonant.
      > **Unless combinations like _ly_ are just digraphs, see my reply
      > to Hans.

      Of course they are digraphic, but I was talking about orthography.

      > > 3. After a diphthong it stands for a medial easing sound.
      > **This is likely, yes. -- I must say that my statement that _i_ in
      > _haia_ is a part of the diphthong may not be true. We know how Quenya
      > words are transcribed in Latin letters and sometimes even in Tengwar,
      > but we usually do not know how they are realized in speech.
      > The word _haia_ may be pronounced as either [ha-ja], [hai-a] or
      > [hai-ja]. In my opinion, the pronounciation [ha-ja] is possible,
      > though I do not find it very likely.

      [ha-ja] is not possible because it is written with an _i_. Tolkien
      never stated that he used _i_ as _j_ in Quenya.


      > Now _sarniye_ would clearly be an istance of [i] and [j] standing
      > beside one another. However, if it is possible to pronounce _sarnie_
      > as [sar-ni-e] and _haia_ as [hai-a], the [j] would be, in my opinion,
      > only to ease the pronounciation of hiatus.

      The most likeliest explanation is that _y_ is an easening sound here,
      not the same _y_ as in _Yavanna_. That would explain why it is
      sometimes written, sometimes not. This situation would be exactly
      as in Finnish.

      > I tried to listen to Tolkien's reading of Namárie but my ears are not
      > trained enough, so I would like to hear opinions of others (I think he
      > said [mor-ni-e] without [j].)

      He didn't say [j], but it wouldn't matter, for the medial easening
      glide/sound is not [j].

      Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
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