Lecture 2: Pronunciation (Part 1: Vowels) Jul 16, 2013 17:28:49 GMT -6
Post by Hooligan on Jul 16, 2013 17:28:49 GMT -6
LECTURE 2: TALOSSAN PRONUNCIATION
PART 1: VOWELS
IN SHORT AND DETAIL BOTH
To be sure, there are some small peculiarisms in Talossan pronunciation, and we'll be going over them this week. But by and large, 95% or more of what you need to know about how Talossan is pronounced can be covered in a bunch of bullet points. So rather than having separate short and detailed lectures this week, we'll go with bullet points that are a bit more fleshed out than was done in the first week.
(If you read between the lines, you can understand this to mean, "Hool's assistant professor lackey didn't prepare him a lecture this week, and it's already late, and he is too lazy to write both a short and a detailed lecture.")
And also, we're only going to cover vowel pronunciation today, and this will be just "Part 1" of this week's lecture. We'll cover consonants and some quirks of pronunciation tomorrow in what I am tentatively calling, for planning purposes, "Part 2".
(Yes, okay, okay; what this means is that I'm being extremely lazy. However, it's also true that there is just a whole lot of ground to cover about pronunciation, and I tricked Iustì into agreeing with me that it would take more than one post to do, so splitting it up is actually good for you, and not simply me being lazy. At least that's my story. And I'm sticking to it.)
So anyway, on we go. Vowel pronunciation....
Pronouncing Talossan Vowels
When They Appear Alone
When They Appear Alone
Notice, first, that teaching pronunciation without any sound is a tricky thing. Even with sound it is, because we all have our own accents and dialects. So, just to make sure everyone's straight, I'll say that I will be describing pronunciation from an American English perspective (or at least my own accented American English), using American English words (and my own pronunciation of them) as examples. If you don't pronounce English the same way your professor does, well, I can't help you. You're just plain wrong, and that's sad for you.
On the other hand, although those of you who already have a Romance language background will likely not necessarily find the examples very helpful (since you certainly pronounce English differently than I do), you have the distinct advantage over the other students in that Talossan is a Romance language, with largely Romance pronunciation (like yours), and so seeing English-language examples is likely of little use to you.
I've mentioned already (in week 1, or at least I hope I did) that there are two "styles" of Talossan writing that are recognised: the "traditional" and the "simplified" styles. Most (actually, I think all) of the differences in these styles are here in the world of vowels, so we'll cover them here and now. And we'll do it this way: I will describe the "simplified" use of each vowel, and then, in italics, discuss the "traditional" uses you might see (and also a couple of corner-cases seen used even in the "simplified" style). So if you plan to study only the "reformed" or "simplified" style of Talossan writing, you could conceivably skip the italic details below, but you may like the background on our language's history and forms that are there. Your call.
- Talossan has eight vowel letters. They are a, e, i, o, and u (all of which can be said to be pronounced as in all other Romance languages, well, except French which can't decide how anything is pronounced, which just goes to prove you can't trust the French), and the three umlaut-marked vowels ä, ö, and ü; (which have Germanic pronunciation roots).
Writers of the "traditional style" also may be seen to use a ninth vowel letter, î. This vowel has a Russian-language pronunciation except when used in the ending -înd or -înds (which is spelled -ind or -ind in the "simplified" style), when it, in whichever style, gets pronounced as if it were a. Yeah, yeah; I know. We'll talk more about that little oddity tomorrow.
- Each of the eight vowels can also be seen marked with various diacritical marks. For example, you could see o either unmarked, or as ò or ó (or even as ô). If marked with an acute or grave accent (those are the little diagonal lines, as in ò and ó), this always means that the syllable that the vowel is in is stressed; we'll talk in detail about stress next week.
In the "traditional style" of writing, there is a single exception to this rule concerning the accent always meaning stress: traditionalists will write -escù even though the stress is on the e. Additionally, in traditional style writing, vowels might also be seen with other marks; these will be discussed below in the discussion of each vowel.
- The letter a (without an umlaut or any other mark on it) is always pronounced as in the English words par and spa. However, if the letter is the final vowel letter of a word (such as in cosa) and is not stressed, then the letter a is pronounced as at the end of English sofa or cola. This is also true in the plural of these same words (for example, cosas).
Writers of "traditional style" Talossan often choose, when the word indicates a feminine gender noun (we'll talk about "gender" in a couple weeks) to mark these word-ending letters with either a breve, or, equivalently and more commonly, a circumflex (that is, as cosӑ or cosâ).
Another historical mark you might see is the bolle (a little circle above the letter): å; this mark is no longer in use (in either writing style), but had been used for many years to indicate the pronunciation of the letter a as in the English words law or call. For example, the word now usually seen written sa (= so) had been written så, and many insist on the pronunciation of the vowel in that word as the bolle indicated. (Only a hundred or so words were ever, back in the day, spelled using å.) [Personally, my own accent of English doesn't have any å-sounds in it. Nope; none at all. My speech has undergone what they call the "cot-caught merger" (wiki it, it's cool stuff) so I pronounce the words la and law identically. People elsewhere don't. I can't help them.]
- The letter e is always pronounced the first of the two vowel sounds you hear when you say the name of the English letter A. When saying that letter, notice that you are kind of saying something close to "eh-ee". The Talossan letter e is that first (the "eh") sound. So, you ask, why didn't I just say that the letter is pronounced like the English word eh, eh? Well, because. Notice that when you say that word, you almost certainly add the "ee" or even a little "y" sound at the end without thinking about it. Don't do that (if you can help it) when you say a Talossan e.
Writers of "traditional style" Talossan sometimes mark certain e's with an umlaut to indicate a slightly different pronunciation. For example, the word per (= for) may be seen written për by someone using the traditional style.
To make matters slightly confusing, other (non-traditional) writers might use that same mark to indicate that the letter e should not join with an adjacent vowel but be pronounced alone in a separate syllable, as seen in the English name Chloë (pronounced "klo-ee"). The number of Talossan words where one might see this happening is extremely small.
- The letter i is always pronounced like it is in the English word police. That is, like the name of the English letter E. So, building off what was just said about the Talossan letter e, above, the way you would "spell" the name of the English letter A in Talossan is...anybody?? Bueller??...correct: ei.
In both writing syles, the letter i with an umlaut (two dots) on it (that is, ï) indicates that the letter is not to join with an adjacent vowel, but rather to be pronounced alone, just as this same mark makes that same indication in the Engilsh word naïve.
Additionally, as mentioned above, the letter î is seen in traditional style writing. In 2007, when "simplified" style was introduced, the words that used this vowel were re-spelled. For example, tîmp (= time) was respelled temp (= time); this is one remaining spelling difference between the two writing styles.
- The letter o is always pronounced like the beginning of the name of the English vowel O. What do I mean by "the beginning of" that sound? you ask. Well, think about it; when you (if "you" are a native English speaker, at least) say the name of the letter O, you actually are saying a little "W-sound" at the end of it. Aren't you? Admit it. Told you so. Try to make a conscious effort to leave that "W-sound" off when saying any Talossan o.
The two writing styles are very much aligned when it comes to the letter o. While traditional style writers may sometimes be seen to use a circumflex to indicate stress on the letter o (that is, ô), and simplified style writers seem to consistently prefer the accent marks (that is, ó or ò), all three symbols are understood to mean the same thing.
- The letter u is always pronounced as it is in the English word rule. That is, pronouncing Talossan u is just like saying the word "ooh" (but, again, without that little "w-sound" that you might find yourself adding to the end of that word).
While in traditional style writing, you might see the letter u written with a circumflex (û), you will only see this in the letter combination oû (which "simplified" style writers write without the circumflex), and so, truly, for the letter u itself, there is absolutely no difference in the way it is seen in the two styles of writing.
- The letter ä (a with an umlaut, or two-dots) is always pronounced like the letter a in the English words bat, rat, cat, at, hat, sat, mat, add, lad, pad, sad, mad, glad, amber, apt, tan, ran, span, grand, sand, hand, band, can, man, jam, stand, plan, and and. Why did I provide such a long list of examples? Because the first time I taught this class, a Scotsman in the class had a difficult time with my example being the different pronunciation of the words cat and cot are pronounced, since in his dialect they sound identical. Hopefully at least one of those many example words I provided illustrates how Talossan ä is pronounced. Another way to describe it is the sound of the Latin ligature æ.
- The letter ö is pronounced as it is in German. Which is of no great help for those of you who don't know German. And by "those of you" I mean "those of us" because even I am not very good at forming the German ö sound. The best way I've heard it described is to put your mouth in the shape that it would take if you're about to say the name of the English letter E, but then, holding your mouth in that position, say an O instead. Good luck. (Basically, English native Talossan speakers are almost always certain to simply pronounce ö like o, and that's okay. It's just the foreign accent we have.)
- The letter ü is pronounced as it is in German. Which means...well, read what was just said about ö. Everything in that paragraph above applies to ü as well, even the "try putting your mouth in E-position but then say U" advice.
All three of the umlaut-marked vowels are used exactly the same in traditional style and simplified style. Surprised? Well, just for completeness, it wasn't always that way: between 2007 and 2012, "simplified" style writers would use a circumflex if one of these vowels was to be stress marked. However, this practice has been abandoned, since only a very small number of words would need such a stress mark, so they can either be marked with an accent above the two dots, or, more commonly, simply left unmarked and their irregular stress is understood. That might sound scarier than it is; honest. We'll maybe talk more about this in the lesson on stress. For now don't let it stress you out (pun intended).
Due to the abandonment of the use of the circumflex as a stress mark for the umlaut-marked vowels, this allowed â, ô, and û to be marked letters that are only seen in the traditional style of writing (each with its own different meaning, as discussed above).
Pronouncing the Talossan Vowel Combinations
(or, to be more professorial, Polyphthongs)
(or, to be more professorial, Polyphthongs)
- In the main, when you see two (or more) vowels together, you will be correct to pronounce them "together". For example, as was discussed above, the vowel combination ei would be pronounced like the name of the English letter A. There are, though, some exceptions to this rule.
- First, there are doubled vowels. These aren't very common in Talossan, but we do see one of the rare examples in the name of one of the nation's provinces, Maritiimi-Maxhestic. Those two i's in a row are pronounced simply as if they were a single i. Yes, that's right, Maritiimi-Maxhesticans, you can put as many i's as you want in a row, but you can only pronounce one of them. The only exception to this is oo; if you see that, pronounce the o's separately; you know, like in the English word cooperate.
- First of all, there are some vowels that you simply can't "cram" together to form a single sound the way you can with ei. One such example is ea. If you see ea, you pretty much have to use two syllables to say them. Admit it. (It comes out like English "eh-ah", or almost even like "ei-ah", huh?)
- Another extremely important exception to the "just say them together" rule is the very common Talossan vowel combination eu. You see this letter pair a lot, at the end of a lot of words. Someone even mentioned during week 1 how they noticed that the Talossan word-ending -eu seems to be what Talossan chose to use when Spanish chose to use -o. Yep. So, how do you pronounce eu? I'll tell you. The best way I have come up with describing it is to say it as someone with a Cockney dialect would say the middle of the English word bird. Almost as if they're saying "bewd" or "biwd". It's like the sound of the letter I in the word wit or hit, followed by a W-sound. Get it?
- Does this mean that the vowel combination éu is pronounced like that? No. No indeed. No. No, and I say again no. If you see éu (with the accent on the e), this means a stressed letter e, followed (in another syllable) by the letter u. Kinda like the middle of the phrase "grey ooze", or "hey you" (without some of the "y-sound" that might be there between the vowels). We will talk more about what stressmarks mean when you see them on vowels next week.
- Another important exception to the rule is the combination ou. This is not pronounced as it is in English (as in the words hour or our or out). Instead it is pronounced as if the o isn't even there. Yes, just like the Talossan letter u. This isn't all that strange, though, because English does this too in some words: souvenir and tour, for example. So just remember: Talossan ou is always like in those words, not like in aloud or bout.
As we touched on above, in the traditional writing style, this vowel combination is usually seen written with a circumflex above the u. That is, oû.
- A final exception to the "just say them together...well, unless you can't, like ea" rule comes into play when the letter c comes before the vowel combination. This gets a bit into consonant pronunciation (which we'll cover in more depth tomorrow) but it's important. You see, if the letter c comes directly in front of the letter e or i, that means the c is pronounced as the English "ch" sound (as in chair or macho). And it also means that the e or i that follows it should be ignored unless it is alone or combines with the next letter. Confusing? Sorry. Maybe an example will clear it up some. The letter combination ce is pronounced like English would pronounce "cheh". The combination cei would be like English would pronounce "chay", and the combination cea would be like English would pronounce "chah" (notice how the "eh-ah" that an ea usually makes is "skipped"; essentially, what I'm saying is that in cases when it would not combine into a single vowel sound with the next letter, an e or an i is only there to cause the c to become pronounced like "ch"). (You see, otherwise, the letter c is always pronounced like the English letter k is pronounced, as in cola or come.)
More to Come...
...As I said, we're crossing over into consonant pronunciation a bit now, so I'll stop here. Until tomorrow. Unless I get too lazy. Which might happen.
The floor is open for questions now. I'm sure Iustì will be happy to answer them.