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Re: [Lambengolmor] Re: Pronunciation and writing of _r_ in Quenya

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  • David Kiltz
    ... Laurence J. Krieg provided us with an accurate transcription of recordings (made in 1952) where J.R.R. Tolkien reads, inter alia, Namárie and A
    Message 1 of 16 , Jan 6, 2004
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      On 05.01.2004, at 23:12, Ales Bican wrote:

      > 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.

      Laurence J. Krieg provided us with an accurate transcription of
      recordings (made in 1952) where J.R.R. Tolkien reads, inter alia,
      'Namárie' and 'A Elbereth Gilthoniel' [Jim Allan: An Introduction to
      Elvish p. 152ff.].

      From the transcription it can be seen that trilled and tapped 'r' are
      virtually interchangeable in Tolkien's pronunciation of Elvish. Tapped
      'r' is numerically prevalent whereas trilled 'r' is found throughout
      before dental (a common phenomenon).

      Hence I think it is possible that Quenya is thought to feature (or
      would 'naturally' have) positional variants of its 'r's, oscillating
      between trilled and tapped 'r'.

      However, Tolkien would mean both a tapped and a trilled 'r' when
      using the cover term 'trilled' in the Appendices.

      Although the distinction between tapped (actually a 'one-trill' r) and
      trilled 'r' e.g. in Spanish can be heard clearly, I think most people
      would characterize those 'r's as 'trilled' when speaking without a
      linguistic background or making only a rough statement. And
      indeed a trill is distinguished from a 'tap' or 'flap' just by the
      number of taps/flaps. That is, a trilled 'r' has many flaps.

      Hence, I think it most likely that the 'r' originally represented by
      <óre> would have been an approximant or fricative. As for the point of
      articulation, the listing in the tincotéma might be suggestive as Ales
      has said (i.e. dental/alveolar/post-alveolar). A guttural approximant
      or fricative might also be considered.

      -David Kiltz
    • Ales Bican
      I 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). ...
      Message 2 of 16 , Jan 6, 2004
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        I 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
        >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."
        >[emphasis mine].

        **This is an interesting note, I have not considered it until now.
        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
        >"semi-vocalic" dental, as _anna_ was a "semi-vocalic" velar

        **You mean "semi-vocalic" palatal, because no "semi-vocalic"
        velar appears in Quenya.

        > and _wilya_ was a "semi-vocalic" labio-velar. And I think that this
        >"semi-vocalic" is what in the terminology of the IPA is called
        >"approximant".

        **This is certainly a good point. But again we must be cautious
        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
        >approximant sound, and retained only the Finnish-like trilled (and
        >tap, maybe).

        **Nor is it oppositive to the fact that Quenya could have
        lost the tap.

        >_Vibrante_ is (in Spanish phonetical terminology) an ambiguous term,
        >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.

        **I see. But still I think it more likely that he meant the tap by
        "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.


        Ales Bican

        --
        What's in a name? That which we call a rose
        by any other name would smell as sweet. (Juliet, _Romeo and Juliet_)
      • Ales Bican
        To my note that Tolkien was not always accurate in App. E, e.g. when he stated that Quenya _h_ was pronounced as _h_ in English house (pronounced with a
        Message 3 of 16 , Jan 6, 2004
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          To my note that Tolkien was not always accurate in App. E, e.g.
          when he stated that Quenya _h_ was pronounced as _h_ in
          English 'house' (pronounced with a voiceless glottal fricative)
          and 'behold' (pronounced with a voiced glottal fricative) several
          people responded.

          Doug Pearson wrote:

          > Not in "American" English: both _h_s are voiced and sound identical.

          **I am not a native speaker of English, so I have to basically rely
          on what I read in books. Arthur J. Bronstein in _The Pronunciation
          of American English_ (1960) notes that the _h_ sound is frequently
          voiced in intervocalic position, which I think means that the _h_
          sound is usually voiceless. As an example of voiced intervocalic
          _h_ the authors gives, inter alia, 'behold'.

          Eddin Najetovic wrote:

          > As a matter of fact I am quite certain that in the English spoken in
          > Britain the _h_'es are voiceless in every position, including
          > those between vowels.

          **I took the information about the voiced intervocalic _h_
          in British Southern standard English from the two books
          I mentioned last time, i.e. _The Sounds of the World's
          languages_ by Peter Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson, and
          _Fonetické obrazy hlásek_ by Bohuslav Hála. I remember
          I read it also in one of Daniel Jones' books but since I
          have already returned the book to library I do not remember
          whether it was _An Outline of English Phonetics_ or _The
          Pronunciation of English_ (I will check it if necessary).

          Patrick Wynne wrote:

          >I note that even the OED indicates the pronunciation of the _h_
          >in both 'house' and 'behold' with the same symbol 'h', which the
          >"Key to the Pronunciation" indicates is pronounced as in 'ho!"

          **Yes, you are right. I have checked the OED. I have also
          checked my _Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary_ (2000)
          and here also both words are written using the same character.
          In the section of the book 'Pronunciation and phonetic symbols'
          the _h_ character is said to be pronounced as _h_ in 'hat'.
          The pronunciation of 'hat' is given between two slashes.
          This is what I find essential, because slashes are normally
          used for phonological transcriptions. Pronunciation given like
          this is rather confusing, because it is neither phonetic nor
          phonemic, it is rather quasi- or pseudo-phonemic but of
          course it depends on what is meant by 'phoneme' and
          'phonemic' (generative phonologists, for instance, rejected
          the notion of 'phoneme' as conceived by the Prague school).
          Anyway, what I want to say is that if the pronunciation of both
          'house' and 'behold' is given with one and the same symbol
          _h_, it is rather to indicate that English has only one _h_
          "phoneme" which may be pronounced differently according
          to its position.

          To return to Tolkien's statement. It is questionable what
          Tolkien really meant. He need not have been familiar with the
          fact that English had actually two variants of _h_. Or perhaps
          he did not realize that the _h_ in 'behold' can be pronounced
          differently than in 'house'. We might consider it then as an
          error (even though it does not have to seem so always, we must
          keep in mind that Tolkien was not omniscient and perfect). Yet
          it also depends on how _h_ is actually pronounced in Quenya.
          I suppose that _h_ in e.g. _halla_ "tall" is a voiceless
          glottal spirant but what about its negation *_alahalla_
          "not tall, short"? Perhaps the _h_ was voiced here just like
          in English 'head' vs. 'ahead'.

          [You may be quite certain that Tolkien was intimately aware of
          all the allophonic variations in every major and most minor
          dialects of English. CFH]


          Ales Bican

          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). 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. But this is not what I want to
          say. What I want is to raise a question: so what is the Quenya _hy_,
          a fricative or approximant? And this concerns also _hw_ -- a voiceless
          labiovelar fricative or voiceless labiovelar approximant?

          --
          What's in a name? That which we call a rose
          by any other name would smell as sweet. (Juliet, _Romeo and Juliet_)
        • Arden R. Smith
          ... 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
          Message 4 of 16 , Jan 7, 2004
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            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
            above):

            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
            *********************************************************************
          • Ales Bican
            I mentioned that Tolkien s description in App. E of Quenya _hy_ may be two-fold: it may be either an approximant or fricative ... **As j. mach wust already
            Message 5 of 16 , Jan 8, 2004
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              I mentioned that Tolkien's description in App. E of Quenya _hy_
              may be two-fold: it may be either an approximant or fricative
              according to his description (in my view). Arden R. Smith wrote:

              >Really? I see no examples of a voiceless palatal approximant there.

              **As j. 'mach' wust already mentioned, I meant the sound in English
              'hue' to be a voiceless palatal approximant.

              >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_."

              **According to Ian Maddieson and Peter Ladefoged (_The
              Sounds of the World's Languages_ (2002, first published in
              1996) Tolkien described two different sounds: "The onset
              in [English _hue_] is normally a voiceless palatal approximant,
              _j_ [written with an underposed circle], for which the IPA
              has no unitary symbol." (326).

              I wrote:

              >>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.

              Arden:

              >You speak as though the IPA was graven in stone long ago and is
              >therefore impervious to change.

              **Well, I suppose this may be a reading of what I wrote. Next time
              I should definitely attempt to use better words and phases. -- Of
              course, I know that the IPA underwent a number of revisions, so
              basically I wanted to say is that it still needs some revisions
              to be better.

              > 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*!

              **Revisions of the chart are (I suppose) based on current research,
              so what was not (could not) be differentiated in the past can be
              differentiated today. I do not know the state of affairs in Tolkien's
              time but maybe it was not known then that the sounds of Eng.
              _hue_ and Ger. _ich_ are different and therefore Tolkien did not
              make any difference between them.

              > 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.

              **The IPA is (as far as I can see) good for a language like English
              but as far as I know Czech phoneticians do not perceive as
              fitting for Czech, but of course it is also a matter of getting
              used to it. At any rate a character for r-hacek (and no, it is _not_
              [r] + [zh] (i.e. the sound in 'pleasure')!) is missing (why?). Also,
              the way afficates are written in the IPA does not look very pleasing
              to a Czech eye. Another thing that could be bettered is difference
              between _þ, ð_ and _s, z_.The former are given dental fricatives
              and the latter as alveolar fricatives. A distinction should, however,
              be rather made between sibilant and non-sibilant fricatives, as we
              can have both dental and alveolar _þ, ð_ and dental and alveolar
              _s, z_.

              >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]).

              **I know that but I and Eddin (I think) meant that the IPA did not have
              a unitary symbol for it.

              > 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.

              **I do not have access to the book, only to the book I mentioned
              above, which is from 1996. Since this is newer book, I (not having
              means to find out by myself) prefer to rely on this one. So if
              English is said to possess this sound, it is a rather likely model.
              Personally, however, I am inclined to the fricative (in German _ich_)
              -- _hy_ (at least phonologically) does not appear as the voiceless
              counterpart of _y_ in Quenya.

              By the way, could you give me (us) a list of some languages that are
              mentioned in "your" book? "My" book only mentions (with a reference
              to "your" book) that less than 5% of the world's languages include
              the voiceless palatal fricative in their inventory.


              Ales Bican

              --
              What's in a name? That which we call a rose
              by any other name would smell as sweet. (Juliet, _Romeo and Juliet_)
            • Arden R. Smith
              ... Then there s disagreement among phoneticians as to what sound the initial segment of _hue_ really is. I ve already mentioned Pullum and Ladusaw s
              Message 6 of 16 , Jan 10, 2004
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                Ales Bican wrote:

                >**According to Ian Maddieson and Peter Ladefoged (_The
                >Sounds of the World's Languages_ (2002, first published in
                >1996) Tolkien described two different sounds: "The onset
                >in [English _hue_] is normally a voiceless palatal approximant,
                >_j_ [written with an underposed circle], for which the IPA
                >has no unitary symbol." (326).

                Then there's disagreement among phoneticians as to what sound the
                initial segment of _hue_ really is. I've already mentioned Pullum
                and Ladusaw's statement from 1986. Furthermore, William G. Moulton
                says the following in his _The Sounds of English and German_ (Chicago
                and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962), p. 29:

                "The initial /h-/ of English /'hju/ _hue_, _Hugh_ [...] is pronounced
                by many Americans as a [ç] with rather wide opening."

                My point here is this: If *phoneticians* can't agree what sound
                appears at the beginning of _hue_, then the distinction between these
                two sounds must be so minuscule that it is of no practical
                consequence. So you can go ahead and pronounce _hyarmen_ with a
                voiceless palatal approximant, and I'll go on pronouncing it with a
                voiceless palatal fricative, and no one will notice the difference.

                >By the way, could you give me (us) a list of some languages that are
                >mentioned in "your" book? "My" book only mentions (with a reference
                >to "your" book) that less than 5% of the world's languages include
                >the voiceless palatal fricative in their inventory.

                I'm guessing that even fewer languages have a voiceless palatal approximant.

                _Patterns of Sounds_ (p. 231) lists the following languages as having
                the voiceless palatal fricative: Irish, Norwegian, Bengali, Komi,
                Margi, Mandarin, Kan, Haida, Kwakw'ala, Paez, and possibly Chuvash.
                Two things must be borne in mind: (1) This book discusses the
                *phonologies* of the various languages, so only phonemes are treated
                here, hence the absence of German (in which Maddieson regards [ç] as
                an allophone of /x/); (2) The lists are by no means exhaustive (for
                example, the only Germanic languages included are German and
                Norwegian).

                --
                *********************************************************************
                Arden R. Smith erilaz@...

                Perilme metto aimaktur perperienta.
                --Elvish proverb
                *********************************************************************
              • Andreas Johansson
                ... That, or pronunciation varies from speaker to speaker and/or location to location. It s the kind of minor phonetic variation one expect to see abundantly
                Message 7 of 16 , Jan 11, 2004
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                  Quoting "Arden R. Smith" <erilaz@...>:

                  > My point here is this: If *phoneticians* can't agree what sound
                  > appears at the beginning of _hue_, then the distinction between these
                  > two sounds must be so minuscule that it is of no practical
                  > consequence.

                  That, or pronunciation varies from speaker to speaker and/or location to
                  location. It's the kind of minor phonetic variation one expect to see
                  abundantly in a language of a few hundred million speakers.

                  Andreas
                • David Kiltz
                  On 11.01.2004, at 06:20, Arden R. Smith wrote: A.R.Smith says that William G. Moulton says in his _The Sounds of English and German_ (Chicago and London:
                  Message 8 of 16 , Jan 11, 2004
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                    On 11.01.2004, at 06:20, Arden R. Smith wrote:

                    A.R.Smith says that William G. Moulton
                    says in his _The Sounds of English and German_ (Chicago
                    and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962 that Modern Standard
                    German [ç] sounds like the initial sound of _hue_ as pronounced by
                    many Americans. Now there definitely is a difference between the RP
                    _hue_ sound and the German _ich_ sound (_hue_ is slightly more forward)
                    but it's a miniscule difference. Note the fact that English /ç/
                    only occurs before /u/ word initially whereas German /ç/ never does.
                    That may also add to the difference, thus, perhaps, making the
                    difference between the sounds hardly more than a positional one. Still,
                    all Germans I asked (including me) notice and make a clear distinction
                    between English /ç/ and German /ç/ (and it is lab verifiable!).
                    Still, I think it fair to settle on /ç/ for Quenya as Tolkien's
                    examples can be approximations at times.

                    > Maddieson regards [ç] as
                    > an allophone of /x/ (in German).

                    Just for the record: Not only the vocalic environment plays a role here
                    but also morphemes. Cf. _Frauchen_ /frauçen/ vs. _rauchen_ /rauxen/.

                    -David Kiltz
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