Lecture 2: Pronunciation (Part 2: Consonants) Jul 20, 2013 16:18:38 GMT -6
Post by Hooligan on Jul 20, 2013 16:18:38 GMT -6
LECTURE 2: TALOSSAN PRONUNCIATION
PART 2: CONSONANTS
IN SHORT AND DETAIL, BUT (LET'S HOPE) MOSTLY SHORT
I heard a bit of grumbling from the students concerning the length of part 1 of this lecture, so let's see if I can cover the pronunciation of Talossan consonants quicker than I did that of the vowels. Very doubtful. But I'll try. And fail. But here we go....
NOTE: Text in underlined italics was added to this lecture after its initial issue, per comments from Sir Cresti Siervicül that appear below.
Pronuncing the Talossan Consonants
When They Appear Alone
When They Appear Alone
Most Talossan consonants are pronounced just as they are in English. We will only go over the letters for which this isn't (or isn't always) the case.
The Consonants You Expect (and a Few You Might Not Recognize)
- Unlike in English (with the single exception having to do with the letter c, which we're about to go over), Talossan consonants do not ever change the way a vowel in the word is pronounced. Consider the English words pus and puss (as in "Puss in Boots"), in which the vowel u is pronounced differently. This does not happen in Talossan.
- Unlike in English, the letter c is never pronounced like English s. Instead, it is always pronounced like English k, except when it is followed by either e or i. In those cases, it is pronounced like the "ch" in English (as in chair). This isn't all that strange to English speakers, because this is also a feature of Italian, and there are a great many Italian words with which English speakers are very familiar (for example, the surname of the American actor Al Pacino).
- The letter ç (a c with a little tail on the bottom; the tail is called a cedilla) is always pronounced like the English letter s.
- The Talossan letter ß (which is called "eseta") is also always pronounced like the English letter s. The eseta has no different upper- and lower-case form (ß is used for both), and ß is never found at the beginning of a word. Also, you can always respell ß as ss. So you may wonder why Talossan has both ß and s, then. The answer is that while ß is always pronounced like the s in English snake, the letter s actually isn't always pronounced that way, as we'll see next (don't worry; in English, you see the same kind of thing we're about to talk about -- English actually has many other similar exceptions, such as how s is pronounced like z in words like dogs).
- The Talossan letter s is pronounced as in the English word snake except in the word-ending -sour (seen as -soûr in "traditional style" writing) and in the combination -osa (and -ösa), when it is sounded like English z. This might seem odd until you consider the Talossan word rosa (= rose) and see that even in English that s is a "z-sound". It is, of course, possible to have the full s sound between an o and an a, though, of course? How would such a thing be spelled? Why, with two s's (or, identically, the eseta), of course. This is why the word Talossa is pronounced with an s sound, not a z sound. Notice, though, that while I said every ß can be replaced by ss, it is customary not to do so in the word Talossa (or any word formed from it), and in a only a couple of other words, notably qissen (which means "whose").
- The letter q is pronounced like the beginning of the English words cue and cute. Yes, this is unexpected (and in fact, since people often speak quickly, you might hear q as simply a k-sound, much as in other Romance languages like Spanish, as in the word queso). The only exception (yeah, sorry) is that the combination qu is pronounced as an English speaker would expect, as in queen., which, of course, is different from how it is pronounced in Spanish. So, if you're paying attention, you can correctly conclude that in Talossan -- unlike in English -- the letter q is not anywhere near always followed by u. In fact, there are many very important Talossan words that contain a q but no u. For example, qi means "who" and qe means "what".
- The letter g is always pronounced as in English get and go and not as in English cage and rage...except in two specific words, legeu (which means "law") and regeu (which means "king"), and in any words built from those words, such as regipäts (which means "kingdom"). In those words (only), the g has the English "J-sound".
As a historical note, in days of yore, the words in which g has the English "J-sound" were spelled with a breve-mark on top of the g, but on the first day after the days of yore, the Committee recommended that the mark be dropped.
- The letter ð (which is called the "edh" or "eth") is pronounced like the "th" in the English word thy (or the, there, this, and that). The capital-letter form of this letter is Đ. (In case you're interested, this letter comes between d and e in alphabetical order.) Over the years, a lot of words that had been spelled with ð have come to be seen spelled with d instead, and this is often because....
- The letter d is pronounced like the English letter d, except when it is between two vowels, or when it precedes or follows an r, when it is pronounced as the Talossan letter ð, as described above. Just like with s, though, this change in pronunciation can be prevented by simply doubling the letter. For example, in the Talossan word odarh (= to loathe) the d is pronounced like ð, while in the Talossan word oddarh (= to prod), it is pronounced like English d. (Wondering how to pronounce that very odd-looking combination rh? We'll get to it.)
- The letter þ (which is called the "thorn") is pronounced as the "th" in the English words thigh (and thick and thin). This letter is the final letter of the Talossan alphabet (it comes after z). Note that this letter is very often seen spelled as tg (a convenience for people without a thorn on their keyboard or who don't want to be bothered figuring out how to type one). Most Talossan's first sight of this letter in a Talossan word is in glheþ (or, of course, glhetg), which means language. (Are you wondering how to pronounce that weird-looking combination glh? We'll get to it.)
- The letter l is (perhaps surprisingly) the letter with the most pronunciation rules in Talossan. Most people new to Talossan will simply pronounce it as in English all the time, and that is okay. But as you become more fluent in the language, you might want to be sure that you do the following things (you might even unconsciously notice you're doing them): First, when it comes between two vowels on a word boundary, it behaves just like d in that same situation, and is pronounced like Talossan ð. Second, at the end of a word after the vowel o or u, the letter l is often not even heard at all (for example, the common Talossan word azul, which means hello, is commonly said with a silent final-l). Third, at the end of a word after the vowel a or e or i, the letter l is often heard pronounced like English w. When at the end of a word after an umlaut-marked vowel...or, you guessed it, whenever doubled...then the letter has the full L-sound, as in English like and love. Finally, in the combinations, lc, lp, and lt, the letter l is "devoiced", which means that essentially you "whisper" the l.
- The letter r is pronounced more as it is in other Romance languages than it is in English. For what this means, see Sir Cresti's post below (I had chosen not to go into this distinction, as most English speakers tend to either "develop" the Talossan l in their speech, or are forgiven for using the English sound r).
- Finally, the letter h works just like in English, meaning that it has a sound when it precedes a vowel, but not when it precedes a consonant (or ends a word, like the word oh).
- In English, the letter j is a consonant, but in Talossan, it is just another way to write the vowel i. There is, though, one difference between i and j, and that is that, unlike i, j does not affect the pronunciation of a c that precedes it. That is, the combination cip would be pronounced like the English word cheap, but the combination cjp (with a j) would be pronounced like the English word keep (so would the Talossan letter combination chip, as we'll see a little later). However, you will never see a combination like cjp, since the letter j is used (in place of i) only when it is next to another vowel. For example, one word containing the letter j is the feminine name Cjara (= Claire, or Clara); the first part of this name is pronounced like the English word key (or, since ia forms a vowel combination, kinda like English k'yah), but not like English "chah" (as it would be if spelled Ciara).
- In Talossan, the letter w is a vowel. In fact, it is the vowel u. That's right; just like j is for i, the letter w is simply another way to write u. Also just like j, you will never see a w unless it is next to another vowel. For example, you'd never see cwp (that would be spelled cup instead). Just like j and i, there is also one very small difference between w and u (but in this case, it's even smaller and less obvious than the difference between i and j; in fact, it's so minor you might not even want to read the rest of this bullet point). The letter w behaves differently from u when it is inbetween two vowels. The letter u "groups" to the left, while the letter w "groups" to the right. Which meant that the word awardeu (= award) begins with the two syllables "ah" (the initial letter a) and "wah" (the w and the a that follows it, which is the same as ua). If it were spelled auardeu (with a u), it would begin with the two syllables au (pronounced like English "ow") then "ah". Do you hear the difference? There isn't much. That's why I said it's not a very important difference. It's your fault for reading the rest of the bullet point.
- The letter y does not exist in the Talossan alphabet. That's right, z comes right after x. You will not find the letter y in any Talossan word (though in foreign words that are used by Talossans, it will be there, of course, like if the name Sir Edmund Hillary -- who, for some reason, never adopted a Talossan name -- appeared in otherwise Talossan text). Talossan also uses y as a symbol, the way other languages do (as in x-coordinates and y-coordinates), but that doesn't make it a letter of the alphabet. It isn't. (If you think about it, Talossan's letter j behaves a whole lot like English's letter y, so if you're concerned about "missing" a sound because this letter isn't used, well, don't be. ...Now, of course, that might lead you to wonder, since Talossan j works like English y, how the heck is the English j sound made? Aha! so we are missing a sound! you say. No, we're not. And we'll see why now...
Pronuncing the Talossan Consonant Combinations
(...Wel, At Least the More "Normal" Ones)
(...Wel, At Least the More "Normal" Ones)
Talossan has a number of consonant combinations, many of which might seem strange to English speakers. They fall into two categories, I'm afraid. Here are the ones that are more "normal", and by that, I mean you can see these anywhere in a Talossan word:
- The combination ch is used only before the letter e or i, and this combination is used to "prevent" the c from becoming pronounced as in English chair. We touched on this above with the example that chip is pronounced like the English word keep. Because you only ever see ch introducing an e or i, no Talossan word ends with the letters ch....
- ...unless it ends with the combination sch, which is pronounced (wherever it appears) like the English combination sh, as in ash and ship. For example, the Talossan word lisch (meaning even, or level) is pronounced like English word leash. For a while, Talossan also used sh for this sound (without the c) but for whatever reason, eventually abandoned that, and the c is always used now. Which causes a little issue....
- If a word needs to have the s-sound, followed by a "key"-sound, the only way to ensure this is to indicate that an s followed by chi does not indicate the grouping sch. This is done by the addition of a mark between the s and the ch. Typically, you see an apostrophe used for this mark, but the Committee has indicated that the apostrophe is really just an easier way to type what is called an interpunct (or "middle dot"; like a period but higher on the page). For example, the Talossan word s'chi (or s·chi, using the "middle dot") is the word for exactly what you might expect; English calls it a ski.
The interpunct (or apostrophe as a convenience) is also recommended for use between vowels (so perhaps I should have said this in part 1 of the lecture, huh?) if what would be a vowel combination needs to be separated to indicate pronunciation in two syllables. For example, the Talossan name No'ac'h (or, using the interpunct, No·ac'h), is pronounced similarly to its English equivalent, Noah, because the interpunct indicates that the o and the a are pronounced separately (and not together as oa, which would come out like English "wah"). So what's the deal with the other apostrophe, in c'h? Funny you should ask! Your timing is impeccable....
- The combination c'h is pronounced like the end of the Scottish word loch (as in Loch Ness). Kind of a "heavy, breathy H-sound, maybe with a little scraping K-sound in front of it, but maybe not". Notice that in this case, the mark between the c and the h is always an apostrophe (it is never an interpunct or middle-dot as discussed above; that symbol is only used to separate two sounds, while the combination c'h is only a single sound).
- The combination rh is pronounced like English "sh" as in ash and ship. Yes, that's right. Weird, but true. And you will see this combination a lot, since (at least in the "simplified" style) is appears at the end of every single Talossan verb. For example, menxharh means "to eat", marscharh means "to walk", parlarh means "to talk", and so forth.
In the "traditional style", though, the final h in the verb ending is omitted, and the verbs above are seen as menxhar, marschar, and parlar (though, even though it doesn't look like it, all of these are still pronounced with the English "sh" sound at the end). There has been some talk of recognising that rh is another way to write "r with a dot above it" (with the dot being an indication of the changing of r's pronunciation to "sh"), and simply acknowledging that in the "traditional style", this dot is often omitted as a convenience. This same concept might extend to some of the other consonant combinations where a following h changes the sound of the other letter; for example, mh may be recognised as another way to write "m with a dot above it" (which is pronounced not like m, but like v, but that is neither here nor there...or at least not here).
- The combination glh is pronounced like the middle of the English word million. That is, like the L-sound followed immediately by an English Y-sound. So yes, this means that the word glheþ starts with that sound, something that doesn't happen in any English word.
- The combinations gn and gnh (and even, in the "traditional style" of writing, gñh) are pronounced like the middle of the English words onion or canyon (that is, like the Spanish letter ñ). In the "simplified style", you currently see (from me, at least) both gn and gnh, with gnh perhaps slowly displacing gn (gn had been recommended in 2007 over the traditional gñh, and gnh was recommended by the Arestada of 2012, but unless and until Cresti ever gets around to publishing that Arestads, I, at least, find myself still using gn a lot. But I suppose I should use gnh. But anyway, that's why I described them both here).
- The combination ng is pronounced just like in English. Even to the point of when you "hear" the g, as in words like anger and hunger (as opposed to when you do not usually "hear" the g, like in the words sing and bring). [Talossan actually has firmer rules on this point than does English, because note how unless you speak English, you would have no way to know from looking at them that the g is typically pronounced in anger, but is not pronounced in hanger.]
- If you've been wondering (as I thought you might be; I even mentioned it above) how Talossan indicated the English j sound, well, your wait is over. The combination xh is the answer. It might look weird, but yes, this means that the Talossan name Xhorxh is indeed pronounced just like its English equivalent, George.
- Finally, we have the combination tx, which is (apart from ng) the only one of these that doesn't have an h in it. This combination is pronounced like the middle of the English word vision or the beginning of the name of that Hungarian actress and cop-slapper Zsa Zsa Gabor.
More to Come...
If you were paying attention, you noticed that I said that the "normal" consonant combinations (those that I just went through) are only one of two different kinds of consonant combinations that you'll run across in Talossan. Also if you were paying attention, you may have noticed that I even made a brief passing mention of one of the combinations that is in the second, more "abnormal", group: mh.
Also, there are a (thankfully very small) number of words and letter combinations that break the rules I've gone through so far. (For example, I didn't say anything about the consonant x, so you might think it is always pronounced as in English. You're mostly right, but there's one particular place when it isn't, and that's when it's at the end of a word ending in -eux or -éux -- then it is pronounced like English "sh" as in ash and ship.) [And if you were paying attention last week, you also remember that I mentioned another of these irregularities, the word-ending combination -ind (or -înd in the "traditional style"), which is like the English -ing ending, and which is pronounced, in Talossan, as if it were spelled -ant. Just because.]
So yes, there are a few more things to cover about Talossan pronunciation. But because I'm lazy, and am going to the baseball game tonight and it's nearly time to leave (and because you're sick of reading anyway), I'm stopping here. So both of these things -- the more "abnormal" consonant combinations including mh, and the few "rule-breakings" in Talossan pronunciation -- will be covered in Part 3 of the lecture.
We will just have to see when I get around to writing it.
Until then, the floor is open for questions and comments.