tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Dec 15 07:11:53 1993

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tlhIngan Hol qun vIwam - an article

>From: Will Martin <>
>Date: Tue, 14 Dec 93 18:12:35 EST


Right; I'm getting vastly confused how such a simple problem can cause such
voluminous discussion.

>I said that TKD does not tell us how to prounounce a glottal stop at the
>beginning of a lone syllable. It tells us how to divide two syllables with a
>glottal stop. Period.

Right.  It also never told us how to pronounce a "b" at the end of a lone
syllable, is there confusion there?

>Perhaps some of us believe that should be enough, but I believe that for
>the kind of general audience TKD is generally designed to approach, it would
>have been quite appropriate to have specifically addressed the pronunciation
>of a glottal stop at the opening of a lone syllable as a separate issue.

*blink*.  Valid point.  For me, it's perfectly reasonable to consider {'}
as a full-blooded consonant, no matter where it may appear, but then I've
been studying languages.

The problem here, I think, is again a conflict between the audience Okrand
was coming from and the audience he was writing to (like when he decided to
uppercase the I so as not to confuse other linguists, or so we surmise).
To Okrand, the glottal stop is phonemic in Klingon; that means its presence
or absence can make or break a word.  {tI} is not the same as {tI'}, and
{qama'} is not the same as {qam'a'}.  As a side point, Klingon words don't
start with vowels, so they all start with consonants, and one of those
consonants is {'}.  Plain and simple.  Now he realizes that his audience
(mostly lay English-speakers) aren't used to having a phonemic glottal
stop, and certainly aren't used to seeing it finally, so he works hard to
make sure they can pronounce and hear it properly there.  It doesn't occur
to him that they may not hear it at the beginning of a word, so he doesn't
mention it.  But listen to yourself say the word "only" by itself.  Doesn't
it start with that same catch?  You don't consider it to be there, but
concentrate on what your throat is doing.  It *is* possible to start with a
vowel without the stop, but it's not easy for an English-speaker.  So that
initial {'} is there as much as any other consonant, and Okrand spells it
accordingly.  In a sentence (not a lone syllable), it prevents more than
just vowel elision, but also running words together:  {*bIl 'och} must
sound different from {*bIloch}.

>I have not noticed anything on either tape (CK or PK) or during the live
>spoken Klingon that I heard at Stellarcon 17 that was clear enough to ME that
>Marc Okrand pronounces anything at all that would differentiate between {'eH}
>and {eH}, except that the latter is never an accepted spelling.

To an English-speaker, yes.  And I suppose you're right that you should
address that point in your article.  But to, say, a Hawai'ian, {'eH} and
{eH}, pronounced alone with nothing before, just as you say, would sound
drastically different, since Hawai'ian has {'} as a consonant but *doesn't*
require all words to start with a consonant.  If your "Aloha" starts with
the same sound as {'a}, you're pronouncing it wrong.  This is why Okrand
felt the need to write the {'}: because it's there.  To say that {'eH} is
indistinguishable in sound from {eH} would not be accurate.

> If someone would like to point me to an example on CK or PK that I
>can listen to, knowing that I am hearing a clearly pronounced opening glottal
>stop on a lone syllable, I'll be happy to drop the whole issue, but I have
>yet to have anyone point me to such an example.

Well, my tape happens to be near the end of PK, so I'll give an example
from there.  The Klingon says {'uQ maSoppu'DI'...}, there's a clearly
pronounced initial {'} in {'uQ} (and also in every other initial {'} in the
tapes).  I should also point out, though, that in the preceding English
sentence, there is also a clearly defined one in "I have secret
information", at the beginning of the "I".

>Any takers, among those who think their foreheads are not smoother than
>my own?

I dunno... I never claimed to be Klingon...

>--   charghwI'


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