tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Oct 13 06:00:52 1993

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opinions on Orthography & Phonetics

>From: Will Martin <>
>Date: Tue, 12 Oct 93 11:07:10 EDT
>X-Mailer: UVa PCMail 1.8.4
>Content-Length: 2124

>On Oct 12, 12:54am, wrote:
>> Subject: opinions on Orthography & Phonetics
>> First of all, to all who are bickering over the "i" v. "I" issue:

>I also see no basis whatsoever for ignoring a glottal stop in the middle
>of a word simply because it was silent when the root word was spoken without
>a prefix. It was silent only because it is difficult to start a syllable with
>a glottal stop. Just try it. I DARE you. I know. *I*'ve certainly tried.

Um, hate to break it to you, but in Klingon, at least all the Klingon I've
heard from Okrand and all I've spoken, the glottal stops are *not* silent
at the beginnings of words.  They're definitely sounded.  It is *not*
impossible to begin a word without a stop; Hawai'ian, for instance,
considers ' a consonant (as Klingon does) *and* has words that begin with
vowels and no stop.  Don't ask me how they pronounce them at the beginning
of an utterance (mid-sentence is easy; don't pause between words), I have
no tape.  But I can guess, and unless my book is wrong there are minimal
pairs of words which differ only in that stop, so you'd better know when
you're saying it and when you're not.

Actually, from my own experience I had a pseudo-linguistic trick involving
glottal stops and their elision once.  On a program I was on, I knew two
people named "Amy".  A friend and I decided to distinguish between them in
speech by calling one "'eymIy" and one "eymIy" (to use Klingon
orthography).  That is, one with and one without the stop, under the
assumption that you have to know what to listen for to tell the difference.
It took a little practice to say the stopless one at the beginning of an
utterance or after a pause, but it's possible.  I should also point out
that it took a little thought to remember to say the stop in the other one
when it was in mid-sentence.  Try reading the first sentence of this
paragraph aloud and listening to yourself.  Did you really put a glottal
stop at the beginning of "own" and "I" and "a"?  You likely elided it at
least sometimes, sticking the word onto the previous one.  That's fine in
English, where we don't consider ' phonemic, but I'd maintain that if you
did that in Klingon you'd at the very least be speaking badly (by the
"Imperial Standard Dialect"'s standards, anyway).

>Okrand INTENTIONALLY made some of the consonant combinations difficult
>in order to make them less "natural", and so less human. That's why the "t"
>and "D" sounds use different tongue positions. You are unlikely to find that
>in a human language. He has said so, publicly. A glottal stop is a glottal
>stop anywhere except the beginning of a word, where it remains silent because
>Okrand said nothing about glottal STARTS.

Well, there *are* languages with both t and D (e.g. Sanskrit and its
relations); the only thing weird about the Klingon is not that they're both
there but that the "missing" ones (T and d) are missing.  A glottal stop at
the beginning of a word is pronounced like it is anywhere else, to the
extent possible, just like a p or a t.  A mid-word "p" doesn't sound quite
like an initial "p" because it has that stoppage and pause before it, but
it's still pronounced in both places.  The characteristic feature of *any*
stop-consonant is its *onset*, when the sound starts to be produced, and
that characteristic *is* present for glottals stops as much as anyone else.
Try saying "is" and "his", then drop the "h" from the latter.  Maybe you
can learn to say stopless initial vowels and hear what I mean.

>> Any /'/ that seperates two vowels does nothing more than seperate
>> the vowels, and it tends to leans toward the second syllable. 

>Sorry, dude. You have no case. There's nothing in TKD, CK, TNG or
>anything in the movie series to back you up. Nada. Pagh. Rien. El Zero.

I don't understand either the claim or the response here.

>--   charghwI'


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