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222Re: [Lambengolmor] Re: i and y in Quenya: two phonemes or one?

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  • Ales Bican
    Sep 6, 2002
      Petri Tikka wrote:

      > > **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_.

      **I see. However, it does not imply from the fact that _paju_ is never
      pronounced with [i] that the j and i are necessarily separate phonemes.
      Their distribution may be limited: [j] between vowels and [i] between
      consonants, for instance. It may depend on the position and the
      environment. Similarly as in the Third Age Quenya, the sound [ñ] occurs
      only before velars ([k], [g]), that is in a position where [n] is never
      pronounced. In the Third Age Quenya the sounds [ñ] and [n] are
      allomorphs of the phoneme /n/.

      > > **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].

      **Note that this does not make [k] and [g] allomorphs, since
      they are in free distribution while [w] and [u] are (presumably)
      in complementary distribution. This means that if we replace [k]
      with [g], the replacement will change the meaning of a word.
      For instance, there is a minimal pair _anga_ and _anka_. On
      the other hand, you cannot freely replace [w] with [u], and there
      is no minimal pair in Quenya involving w contra v (as far as I am
      aware).

      > > 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.

      **Sure, but this does not mean it is not possible. Cf the. word-initial
      _i_ in words like _ia_ etc. (already mentioned by Hans (gentlebeldin)).
      And although Tolkien rejected these words, it is possible that, say,
      _ia_ was pronounced as [ja].

      > > 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 think so.


      Ales Bican

      --
      Mi dissero che a quell'epoca per quindici giorni e quindici notti
      i retori Gabundus e Terentius discussero sul vocativo di _ego_,
      e infine vennero alle armi. (Umberto Eco, _Il nome della rosa_)
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