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_h_ in Quenya and English (was: Re: Pronunciation and writing of _r_ in Quenya)

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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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