583Re: Pronunciation and writing of _r_ in Quenya
- Jan 5, 2004Helios De Rosario Martinez wrote:
>I skip the discussion on the variants _rd_, _ry_, _hr_ and _rr_, and**As I am very interested in these matters (indeed I have spent
>go directly to the controversial item: the duality of the pronunciation and
>spelling of the single _r_.
a lot of time thinking about Quenya phonetics and phonology
recently), is it possible for you to share your insights with
us (or me off-list if need be)?
>We found the main information in the Appendix E:**As far as I can say, these can mean basically two things: (1) by
>"R represents a trilled _r_ in all positions; the sound was not lost
>before consonants (as in English _part_)." (LR:1088)
"trilled" Tolkien wanted to stress that Quenya _r_ is not mute and
is pronounced in each and every position unlike English _r_ (as is
after all suggested by the second part of the sentence) or, and which
I find more likely, (2) Quenya _r_ is indeed trilled in all positions
and (though this is not necessirily implied from the sentence) that
Quenya _r_ is different to English _r_.
>"[Óre] was often used for a weak (untrilled) _r_, originally occurring**Unlike Edouard Kloczko, I would read this in such a sense
>in Quenya and regarded in the system of that language as the weakest
>consonant of the _tincotéma_." (LR:1094)
that Quenya (as distinguished from CE or PQ) had originally
two types of _r_'s but later (in, say, Exilic Quenya) only one
>"[Rómen] (in origin a modification of [óre]) was used for 'full'[snip]
>trilled _r_" (LR:1095)
>So, we may infer that when Fëanor invented the _tengwar_ there were**I would like to note that it is not certain whether the
>a weak untrilled and a full trilled _r_, clearly different, but in
>later stages there was only one trilled phoneme.
original tengwar as devised by Feanor really had two
characters for different _r_'s. What I want to say is that
<rómen> could have been introduced by later loremasters.
>The phonemes we are dealing with must be the trilled, tap and**First of all, we do not know whether the rhotics (the _r_ sounds)
>approximant alveolars. If we take the literal meaning of the
>citations, we learn that the phoneme the of _r_ in Third Age was the
>alveolar trilled, as well as the original sound of _rómen_; and that
>the original sound of _óre_ should be tap or approximant. We found the
>approximant a likelier option, since the other _tengwar_ of the sixth
>grade also represented Quenya approximants (_anna_ == /j/, and _wilya_
you mention as possible (i.e. a trill, tap and approximant) are really
alveolar. The contact point or place of approximation (in case of the
approximant) may also be the dental region, which may be even more
probable, because _r_ is listed as one of dentals when Tolkien
mentioned which sounds were permitted word-finally (see Letters
no. 347), though 'dental' in this case could be just a label that
unites all these sounds.
As regards the identity of Quenya _r_, I agree that we must think
of only (voiced) dental/alveolar trill, tap/flap and approximant.
All of them most likely apical (contact/approximation made with
the tip of the tongue).
I think it would be good to explain what trill, tap/flap and
approximant rhotics are.
Trills involve vibration of some articulator which is most often
the tip of the tongue. The tongue tip is vibrating against a contact
point in the dental/alveolar region. Trills usually consist of two
or three periods of vibration.
Taps (also called flaps, though some authors distinguish between
taps and flaps) are those rhotic sounds that have only a single
short closure. They typically involve a direct movement of the
tongue tip to a contact location in the dental or alveolar region.
Approximant _r_'s are those rhotics that do not involve contact
between articulators but only approximation between them. In case
of e.g. apical dental/alveolar approximant this means that the tip
of the tongue makes approximation toward the dental/alveolar
region but makes no contact. Note that this approximation is
not accompanied by friction (friction is involved in fricative
Now an apical trill occurs in Peninsular Spanish, Finnish and
Italian (inter alia). A tap occurs in Spanish (usually described
as dental) or in American English (a different type of tap -- if
a distinction between tap and flap is maintained, the AE variety
is rather a flap). Finally, an (alveolar) approximant rhotic is
typical of Southern British English.
Let me note that the above information is taken from a book
called _The Sounds of the World's Languages_ by Peter
Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson (1996). Another piece of
information relevant for the present discussion is the fact that
in Spanish a "weak" _r_ (i.e. the tap) occurs word-finally
while a trilled _r_ (i.e. the trill) occurs word-initially and
sometimes intervocalically where it sometimes stands in
opposition with the tap. This information is taken (though also
suggested in the aforementioned book) from _Fonetické
obrazy hlásek_ (Phonetic images of sounds) by Bohuslav Hála
(1960). Finally, I would like to mention that a book _Finnish_
by Helen Sulkala and Merja Karjalainen (2002) confirms that
Finnish _r_ is a trill (they speak about apico-alveolar trill)
but the book also mentions that in word-medial position
various allophones from one flap to several flaps appear.
With this information at hand I can return to Quenya. My
opinion is as follows: Tolkien spoke about a trilled _r_ and
I think he really meant the (apical) dental/alveolar trill and
not the Southern English approximant, because a trill appears
in Finnish, Spanish and Italian. All of these languages Tolkien
knew and liked. The untrilled variety Tolkien mentioned in
App. E is also not (in my opinion) the English approximant
but a tap/flap. I find it more likely because a tap occurs in
Spanish (and also in Finnish). And there is also a striking
resemblance in distribution of the sound. In Spanish a tap
occurs word-finally; in Quenya the untrilled _r_ is represented
by <óre> and this tengwa is usually used for word-final _r_'s.
Furthermore, in Spanish a trill occurs word-initially; in Quenya
the trilled _r_ is represented by <rómen> and this tengwa
is usually used for word-initial _r_'s.
>But others stated that the citations must be interpreted otherwise,**Appendix E is a problematic text. When reading it, we must
>since they are oriented to a general (though interested) English
>public, not to phoneticians, and that the terminology used in the
>Appendixes does not accurately match the phonetic terminology we
>are used to, say, the one of the IPA.
remember that Tolkien was writing it primarily for English
readers that could not be supposed to have deep linguistic
knowledge. Also, he must have been limited by space. And
he was not or could not be always accurate.
For instance he says that _h_ in Quenya _eht_, _iht_ had the
same sound as heard in English 'hew' or 'huge', and that _ht_
had the sound of _cht_, as in German _echt_ (i.e. ich-Laut),
_acht_ (i.e. ach-Laut). However, the sound in German _echt_
is a voiceless palatal fricative but the sound in English
'hew' is a voiceless palatal approximant (though the difference
is subtle, of course).
Another similar case is when Tolkien says that _h_ has the
sound of English _h_ in 'house' or 'behold'. The problem is
that the _h_ in 'house' is voiceless but voiced in 'behold'.
Describing situation in Spanish Helios wrote:
> - "'full' trilled" is like "vibrante múltiple" ("trilled" for IPA).**Do you mean "untrilled" or "tap" for IPA?
> - "trilled" is like "vibrante" ("trilled" or "tap" for IPA).
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet. (Juliet, _Romeo and Juliet_)
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