596Re: Pronunciation and writing of _r_ in Quenya
- Jan 6, 2004I wrote that my opinion was that by 'untrilled' _r_ Tolkien had
meant a tap/flap (occurring in Spanish) and not an approximant
(occurring in English).
Helios De Rosario Martinez wrote:
>That is the only point were we disagree. The sounds in Finnish and**This is an interesting note, I have not considered it until now.
>Quenya [read: 'Spanish' -- ab] are a good hint, of course. But note that
> LR:1094 says:
>"Grade 6 was most often used for the _weakest or 'semi-vocalic'_
>consonants of each series. (...) Thus [óre] was often used for a weak
>(untrilled) _r_, _originally_ occurring in Quenya and regarded in the
>system of that language as the weakest consonant of the tincotéma."
Since <vala> belongs to "semi-vocalic" parmatéma/labials, it
speaks for my assumption that _v_ is a labial approximant rather
than voiced counterpart of _f_. At least _phonologically_
(inferring from its distribution and from the general phonological
system of Quenya) I am inclided to regard it as a labial
approximant and not labial (labio-dental) voiced spirant.
[Perhaps of relevance here is Tolkien's note in _The Shibboleth of
Fëanor_ that in early Quenya "the labial spirant _f_ was bilabial, and
so remains in Vanyarin" (VT41:7). CFH]
>I learn from those words that the original consonant for _óre_ was a**You mean "semi-vocalic" palatal, because no "semi-vocalic"
>"semi-vocalic" dental, as _anna_ was a "semi-vocalic" velar
velar appears in Quenya.
> and _wilya_ was a "semi-vocalic" labio-velar. And I think that this**This is certainly a good point. But again we must be cautious
>"semi-vocalic" is what in the terminology of the IPA is called
with Tolkien's terms, for if he writes "semi-vocalic", it does not
have to mean that all these sounds are of the very same nature.
Similarly, if he writes "dentals" and lists _t, s, n, r, l_, it
does not mean that all these sounds are dentals. I would not rely
much on the fact that <óre> belongs to Grade 6, because it does
not actually state anything about how it was pronounced. Suppose
Quenya really had a tap and not an approximant, do you think that
Tolkien would have hesitated to use <óre> for this sound or do you
think he would have used another _tengwa_? Even though <óre> does
not have to be phonetically the best representation of the tap, it is
nevertheless a very apt choice, since <óre> belongs to the
_tincotéma_, which is the series that is used to represent all
"dental" sounds that appear word-finally except for _l_:
<tinco>, <thúle> (?), <númen> and <silme> (supposing it is a
modification of <thúle>).
>This is not opposite to the fact that later Quenya lost this**Nor is it oppositive to the fact that Quenya could have
>approximant sound, and retained only the Finnish-like trilled (and
lost the tap.
>_Vibrante_ is (in Spanish phonetical terminology) an ambiguous term,**I see. But still I think it more likely that he meant the tap by
>since it can be referred to either _vibrante múltiple_ (trilled) or
>_vibrante simple_ (tap). The common point is that both are opposite to
>the approximant, which is nearly "mute" for Spanish ears.
>What I meant is that maybe Tolkien used the word "trilled" in this
>way, not with its specific meaning for IPA, but opposite to the "weak"
>(which he specified as "untrilled") approximant.
"untrilled". If we disregard the loose information Tolkien gives
about _r_ in Quenya in App. E, we are only left with indirect
evidence from real languages. So if I were to decide whether the
"untrilled" _r_ is a tap or an approximant, I would (and will)
choose the tap, because a tap occurs in Spanish and distribution
of the Spanish tap and trill is very reminiscent of distribution
of Quenya <óre> and <rómen> (i.e. "untrilled" and "trilled" _r_).
However, as I said it is only indirect evidence.
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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