tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Dec 07 17:28:02 1999

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Re: Klingon phonetics..

>Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 18:23:11 +0100 (MET)
>From: Zrajm C Akfohg <zrajm@Update.UU.SE>
>I recently read Allan C. Wechslers interesting article on
>klingon phonology again. (see HolQeD 1:1, p.3)
>However there are a few things I wonder:
>How should I transcribe the klingon {o} sound (using IPA)?
>>From what I understand, the vowel sign to use should be
>IPA's "180 degrees rotated c" (ie an "open-mid back rounded
>vowel"). Is this correct?

Well, Klingon only has one mid back vowel.  So phonemically (or in broad
transcription), /o/ will do.  Phonetically... you'd have to listen to us
speak.  Mmm... I think I pronounce it higher than the "rotated c"
(a.k.a. "open o"): it really is closer to the IPA /o/, cardinal 7

>Also according to Allan C. Wechsler:
>  "The back vowels have a full off-glide, so that /u/ and
>  /o/ are realized as (IPA) [uw] and [ow] respectively."
>Is this really correct? Should I really transribe {rup} as
>[ruwp] using IPA? (I haven't got my TKD with me, but I'm
>quite sure that MO comments that there are no syllables
>ending in {ow} and {uw} since they would be
>indistinguishable from syllables ending with {o} or {u}
>when spoken.)

That's what Okrand says, which presumably is what Wechsler is basing his
statement on.  But consider the source: Okrand is describing the language
"from inside" so to speak: as it sounds to its speakers and hearers.  An
English-speaker would say that aspirated and unaspirated /p/ are
"indistinguishable", or rounded vs. unrounded /u/, since we don't hear the
difference.  So presumably in Klingon, the simple vowel /o/ *may* be
diphthongized in actual production, and would not contrast with the
diphthongized version of it (which is not so for /E/ and /I/).  In broad
transcription, I'd just use /o/ and /u/ and have done with it.  If I were
writing a narrow transcription I might indicated [ow] and [uw] if the
speaker used them (though frankly I find [uw] awfully hard to hear).  I
don't think I'd infer from here that /o/ *should* be or *must* be

>I also would like to know whether {q} should be aspirated or
>not (seems logical, all other [ie {p} and {t}] voiceless
>stops are).

I wonder how many Klingonists are careful to aspirate those stops?  I know
I'm not.  I bet they usually come out fine in syllable-initial position,
and Klingon doesn't have syllable-initial consonant clusters, but I bet I
don't aspirate them word- or syllable-finally.  Then again, perhaps
Klingons don't either; it isn't like they need the contrast: there are no
unaspirated stops for them to contrast with.  Any Indian Klingonists out
there?  (insofar as it matters to me, I'm inclined to believe {q} is
aspirated as {p} and {t} are).

(BUT, beware of what happens to syllable-final /t/s!  Many of us
English-speakers regularly reduce them to glottal stops, and I learned that
was a mistake the hard way at the qep'a', as I posted not long ago).


Back to archive top level