Kenji Schwarz wrote:

>On Wed, 20 Jan 1999, Kristian Jensen wrote:
>> Can you pronounce these pharyngealized vowels yourself? I have
>> some data on a tungusic language called Even in a book titled
>> _The Sounds of the World's Languages_. There are some sample
>> words and eight x-ray tracings of the vocal tract of a Even
>> speaker articulating both the plain and pharyngealized vowels.
>> But even with all these data, I find it extremely difficult to
>> pronounce the pharyngealized vowels as they are described to me.
>> I have yet to hear them though. I myself have no problem in
>> pronouncing the phonation contrasts in Boreanesian.
>I _think_ I can pronounce it right. At least for single words.  In
>connected speech at something approaching a "normal" speed, I get
>tangled up and miss it.

I'm trying them right now. I _think_ I have them as well - but
perhaps I'm trying too hard that it seems impossible. If I relax...
NOPE! Can't do it! How can one relax when one pharyngealizes.

>ISTM that the reason pharyngialization hasn't been widely
>identified in the North Tungusic language families (besides the
>fact it's not a feature that Westerners are likely to think of
>noticing) is that it's accompanied by slight but "more distinct"
>(to Russian, German, Japanese etc. listeners) changes in the
>articulation of the vowel.  Since from very early on investigators
>have been working under the hypothesis that Tungusic is related to
>Turkic and Mongolian, where there's a different sort of vowel
>harmony, there's been a sort of pressure to fit Tungusic into the
>same categories.  Since it doesn't work very well, Tungusic has
>been described by these investigators as having "irregular" or
>"degenerate" vowel harmony.  The case might actually be that it's a
>perfectly regular thing, just not working on the same dimension(s)
>as in Turkic and Mongolian languages.

Actually, when I read about the vowel harmony in Tungusic, it did
_not_ remind me of Turkic. Rather, it reminded me of
Niger-Kordofanian languages of Western Africa - the Igbo language of
Nigeria being a famous example. They also have vowel harmony based
on advancement of the tongue root. I have read however that in the
case of Tungusic, the retraction of the tongue root is much more
extreme (hence pharyngealization). If anything, linguists should try
to relate the Tungusic languages with those of Western Africa and
not Turkish.....
I'm KIDDING of course. 8-)

>> No there isn't. The phonation of major syllables remains
>> constant. Phonemically, creaky syllables always end in a glottal
>> stop /?/ and clear syllables always end in a glottal fricative
>> /h/ (or voicelessness). But there is a sort of regressive
>> assimilation process of the glottal coda of major syllables in
>> colloquial speech. As a rule, the /?/ in creaky syllables
>> assimilates with the following consonant and becomes
>> corresponding stops in colloquial speech. The /h/ (or
>> voicelessness) in clear syllables remain constant. Both of these
>> lead to some sounds I find particularly pleasing across syllable
>> boundaries; pre-stoped nasals, geminate stops, and pre-aspirated
>> nasals and stops. I also find voiceless sonorants at syllable
>> codas rather pleasing. The only thing is I'm not as fond of are
>> creaky coda sonorants - I suppose I can't please all my aesthetic
>> tastes if I wanna be naturalistic. Besides, creakiness somehow
>> fits naturally within the Boreanesian phonological framework.
>Wow.  I've read a fair bit about Sino-Tibetan phonology and learned
>about these sorts of features there, but I have no practical
>experience with it, and have trouble producing/"hearing" (mentally)
>these distinctions.  Any chance you'll have a Boreanesian audio
>file available sometime?

Sorry. Perhaps next year. Time constraints you see. For now, I'm
trying to get a grammar done on hard copy - but I guess that won't
help you much. First thing's first. Suffice to say, the
transcription of Boreanesian in the grammar will be done entirely in
IPA. With so many unique phonological features, the Roman alphabet
is simply not sufficient to transcribe Boreanesian. When I'm done
with the grammar, I'm sure I'll begin making audio files. You'll be
the first to know.

-Kristian- 8-)