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594Quenya rg > ry before back vowels

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  • David Kiltz
    Jan 6, 2004
      On 05.01.2004, at 23:27, Ales Bican wrote:

      > I can hardly see
      > motivation in the case of _targâ_ > Q _tarya_.

      In addition to Andreas Johansson's examples from Swedish, I might add
      that in some German dialects the same happens. In the Rhineland area
      you have /ju:t/ for SG (=Standard German) _gut_ etc. (the 'j' being
      pronounced very similar to English 'y' but with some palatal friction).
      In fact, moving towards the Ruhrgebiet you will hear /gürjen/ for the
      PN 'Jürgen', that is /j/ and /g/ are exchanged. Phonetically, what
      happens is that 'light', that is palatalized /g/ becomes a fricative
      which naturally yields /j/. Now (for your point) velar or
      non-palatalized /g/ should become /G/ (I mean the velar voiced back
      spirant). However the opposition /G/ : /j/ is leveled in favour of /j/.
      The reason for that would seem to be that a /G/ would normally be
      pronounced further down the throat than /g/ hence in the process of
      spirantization the point of articulation is moved either way (to the
      front or the rear of the gum). Possibly because the process of
      spirantization started with palatalized /g'/, i.e. g before front
      vowels and was then analogously extended to all instances of /g/. Or
      else, because the pronunciation of /g/ has already been somewhat
      fronted before, so that the output is /j/ without significant movement
      of the point of articulation, if any at all. In fact, there *is* a very
      slight difference between /j/ in _jeck_ 'crazy' and _jut_ 'good', the
      latter being pronounced somewhat more to the back, between the palatum
      and the velum.

      I think that a scenario along these lines looks rather likely. At any
      rate, the development exhibited by Quenya is well documented in real
      world languages, as /j/ = /y/ is attested even in the history of
      English (although the output of /g/ +- pal. are different).

      -David Kiltz
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