Wednesday, 8 September 2010

linguolabials


A linguolabial is a consonant articulated by the tip or blade of the tongue against the upper lip.

Linguolabials are found in the consonant inventories of very few languages. Ladefoged and Maddieson, in their book The Sounds of the World’s Languages (Blackwell, 1996), give some examples from Tangoa, a language spoken on an island belonging to Vanuatu, in which linguolabials contrast with both bilabials and alveolars for plosives, nasals and fricatives, e.g. t̼et̼e ‘butterfly’.

So much for linguolabials realizing separate phonemes. A different matter is the style-governed articulation of alveolars or dentals as linguolabial, something occasionally encountered in English. People on the VASTA discussion list have recently been discussing the articulatory habits of Britney Spears, the singer, who sometimes does precisely this with the English consonants l, θ and ð. I suppose she thinks it’s sexy. See this video clip.

Apparently Britney lip-syncs all her songs.

12 comments:

  1. It IS sexy :D

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  2. 02:23: With dark l, too. Am I the only one who finds this noteworthy?

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  3. Nice finding Dr. Wells. It is apparent that she's seeking an extralinguistic effect. I find it so difficult to articulate like that.
    Cheers

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  4. It's actually quite beautiful, the way linguolabial plosives sound: they're like this wonderful blend of labial and alveolar plosives. Now you hear this, now you hear that.

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  5. Isnt what she does a variant on the theme of licking one's lips in anticipation or recollection of something delicious. I have to confess that I sometimes do a jokey immitation of a baby babbling by uttering repeated linguolabials - a performance reserved for only my intimates. Perhaps she's intimating intimacy.

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  6. It's neat how she seems to be pronouncing a linguolabial when that photo was taken. That's all I have to add to this discussion.

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  7. What this lady does is simply foolish!

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  8. An example of womanhood donated by Louisiana to the world....

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  9. How does one access the VASTA discussion list? Cheers!

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  10. Phil: that was MY skill in pressing a key at the exact moment to capture a still from the video clip.
    vp: follow the links on their website.

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  11. The movement of the tongue might be something she does only in (play-back) video clips. Remember: she is not really singing there. This could explane why dhe does this only in the clips and not during conversations.

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