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From: "Christian Thalmann" <[log in to unmask]>
> 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.

It appears that we may be working with different senses of "soft" and "hard"
here.

If I take both [afata] and [avada] and whisper them (thereby making them softer)
which one changes more?  ... The harder one, [avada], not the one that was
already soft.

> 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.

Or maybe you might say the unvoiced consonants have soft furry bristles, and the
voiced ones are packed down hard? ;)

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

Actually, I am even worse at determining how "soft" or "hard" a musical piece is
than I am at determining what instruments are being played.    It certainly
depends on what music they were playing... if the violin was playing the same
tune as the drum, then I think I might call the violin harder (I am hearing a
pizzicato *something* right now...)


    *Muke!