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CONLANG  November 2013, Week 3

CONLANG November 2013, Week 3

Subject:

Re: The one word that's the same in any language...

From:

Leonardo Castro <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 17 Nov 2013 11:16:01 -0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (84 lines)

It's strange that Spanish Wiktionary says that "huh" is "um" or "uf":

 !um¡, !uf¡, usado para indicar interrogación, confusión,
incredulidad, sorpresa, desdén.
http://es.wiktionary.org/wiki/huh

I guess it's "ahn" in pt-BR, pronounced as /ã/ , [ɐ̃] with rising pitch.

Até mais!

Leonardo


2013/11/16 Siva Kalyan <[log in to unmask]>:
> Sorry—actually, the article doesn’t say anything about “neutral vowels” (I misremembered that), and you’re right that it may not be possible to define such a concept cross-linguistically.
>
> However, the article does suggest that the vowel in the huh? word tends to be the most frequently attested vowel in the language; p. 7 cites evidence that this is the case for Spanish (¿e?). Frequency can of course be defined cross-linguistically.
>
> According to the article, the huh? word has an initial [h] only in those languages which have /h/ as a phoneme (and has an initial glottal stop only in those languages which have a glottal stop as a phoneme).
>
> Note that the word in question isn’t defined in terms of a particular phonetic form to begin with (thus you can still have a huh? word which doesn’t begin with [h], etc.). It’s defined only in terms of having a particular function (the “clarification question” function), so it’s not relevant here that in some dialects of English, “Huh” can have another function (with a different intonation, I might add).
>
> Siva
>
> On 16 November 2013 at 20:51:25, R A Brown ([log in to unmask]) wrote:
>
> On 16/11/2013 06:10, Siva Kalyan wrote:
>> From what I understand, the point is not that the vowel
>> tends to come from the same, restricted region of vowel
>> space in every language—but rather that, whatever the
>> vowel is, it is always the same as the language’s
>> neutral vowel.
>
> Do all languages have a _neutral_ vowel? Obviously
> languages with (heavy) word stress are likely to have one.
> But what, e.g., was the neutral vowel in ancient Greek,
> which had _tonal_ word accent? What is the neutral vowel
> of, say, Spanish or Swahili?
>
> I don't think "neutral vowel" has a universal cross-language
> meaning.
>
>> More generally, the “huh?” word always conforms to the
>> language’s phoneme inventory and phonotactics,
>
> So what about languages with no neutral vowel, no aspirate etc.?
>
> Welsh, however, does have a neutral vowel /ə/, written _y_.
> But in that language we find that _y_ (or _yr_ before
> vowels) may be:
> - the definite article;
> - a relative particle;
> - a preverbal particle used before certain affirmative parts
> of the verb "to be"
>
> Now those are "real" words, but none mean "huh" :)
>
> (The latter two uses tend to be silent in the spoken
> language, tho the preverbal particle does leave its r-
> before a vowel.)
>
>> which is the main reason for considering it a “real”
>> word, i.e. a part of the language, rather than “just
>> noise”.
>
> Another problem, it seems to me, is that "huh" isn't used
> the same way throughout the anglophone world. To me it's an
> exclamation of (mild) disgust, disbelief etc. When I first
> encountered it in the US being used as, basically, a
> question particle, I thought "What's wrong with this guy?"
> till I realized he wasn't disbelieving me or being rude - it
> was merely a neutral, interrogative particle ;)
>
> I remain skeptical.
>
> --
> Ray
> ==================================
> http://www.carolandray.plus.com
> ==================================
> If /ni/ can change into /ɑ/, then practically
> anything can change into anything.
> [YUEN REN CHAO]

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