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On Fri, 2 Nov 2001 13:59:36 +0100, Christian Thalmann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Jesse Bangs wrote:
>
>> Why do people often think of the voiceless sounds as "hard" and the
>> voiced ones as "soft"?  I've always thought of it the other way around.
>
>It completely escapes my understanding how anyone could consider [t] to
>be softer than [d], or [f] softer than [v].  Try saying [afata] and
>[avada], that should make it clear.  In the first utterance, the
>consonants interrupt the flow of the word with percussive unvoicedness,
>while the second word glides off the tongue in a single soft mellifluous
curve.
>
>As for the physical aspect:  Unvoiced consonants have a lot of
>high-frequency spikes, like percussion instruments in music, while
>voiced ones have much smoother Fourier signatures, like plucked strings.

Interesting information!

>  Surely nobody would consider a violin pizzicato harder than a drum solo?

A drummer would! (Although pizzicato would be easier than arco).

Seriously though, the application of words like "soft" and "hard" to sounds
is metaphorical, and different languages/people have different metaphores
(see Rick Morneaus essay -- sorry I've forgotten the current link).

Jeff

>-- Christian Thalmann