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605_hy_ in Quenya (and the IPA) (was: _h_ in Quenya and English)

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  • Arden R. Smith
    Jan 7, 2004
      Ales Bican wrote:

      >ps. Another discrepancy in App. E I mentioned last time
      >was the problem of Quenya _hy_, which Tolkien described
      >as two similar yet different sounds (a voiceless palatal
      >approximant and voiceless palatal fricative).

      Really? I see no examples of a voiceless palatal approximant there.
      In fact, the examples given in Tolkien's description of Quenya _hy_
      in Appendix E are merely a subset of the examples given for [ç]
      ("Voiceless palatal central fricative") by Geoffrey K. Pullum and
      William A. Ladusaw in their _Phonetic Symbol Guide_ (Chicago and
      London: University of Chicago Press, 1986), p. 30:
      "Illustrated by the initial segment of English _hue_ in some
      pronunciations, by the final sound of German _ich_, and by the
      initial segment of Japanese _hito_."

      > Eddin Najetovic
      >agreed with me pointing out that IPA does not even have a
      >symbol for the voiceless palatal approximant. Well, the IPA
      >does not have a lot of symbols it should have, unfortunately,
      >it should have been devised better.

      You speak as though the IPA was graven in stone long ago and is
      therefore impervious to change. The IPA has been revised many times
      in the course of its history, and today's IPA differs in many
      respects from Paul Passy's original 1888 creation. For example, the
      IPA didn't differentiate between the voiced palatal approximant and
      the voiced palatal fricative until *1989*! There's certainly nothing
      preventing the Association Phonétique International from adding a
      symbol for the voiceless palatal approximant, should it be deemed
      necessary. But in the 116-year history of the IPA, it has apparently
      *not* been deemed necessary.

      If you need to express the voiceless palatal approximant in the IPA,
      however, it's already easy enough to do: use [j] with a little
      circle under it (thus voiceless [j]). This is what Ian Maddieson
      does in _Patterns of Sounds_ (Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 1984), p.
      245. Incidentally, the list that is given there of languages
      containing that sound doesn't contain any likely models for Quenya:
      Malagasy, Yao, Klamath, Otomi, Mazahua, Hopi, and Aleut.

      Postscript: Anyone interested in the history of the IPA should check
      out the following (in addition to the Pullum and Ladusaw book cited

      Robert William Albright, "The International Phonetic Alphabet: Its
      Backgrounds and Development." _International Journal of American
      Linguistics_ 24 (January 1958).

      Michael K. C. MacMahon, "Phonetic Notation", in: Peter T. Daniels and
      William Bright (eds.), _The World's Writing Systems_. New York and
      Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1996, pp. 821-46.

      Additionally, if you have access to a library with a complete run of
      _Le maître phonétique_, the organ of the Association Phonétique
      International, you can see the alphabet growing and changing right
      before your eyes.

      Arden R. Smith erilaz@...

      Perilme metto aimaktur perperienta.
      --Elvish proverb
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