Monday, 13 August 2012

coming back down

All of the UK —and particularly all of London— is still on an Olympic high. We feel euphoric, full of goodwill to all, proud of who we are, proud of what we have achieved, very special.

But I must descend from the sublime to the trivial. There were two Olympic athletes in Team GB whose names are susceptible in BrE to intrusive r: the heptathlete Jessica Ennis ˈdʒesɪkər ˈenɪs and the boxer Nicola Adams ˈnɪkələr ˈædəmz.

Nicola’s opponent in the final bout was the Chinese boxer Ren Cancan. My colleague John Maidment has written (ranted) elsewhere about commentators’ mangling of Chinese names because of not understanding the spelling-to-sound conventions of Hanyu Pinyin. The BBC commentator wasn’t too bad with Ren (Chinese 2ɻən), but the temptation of rendering Cancan (Chinese 4tsʰan 4tsʰan) as if we were at the Moulin Rouge was too great, and she was repeatedly called ˈkænkæn.

Just remember, folks: Pinyin c is like in Polish, a voiceless alveolar affricate, though in Chinese aspirated. (Its unaspirated counterpart is spelt z, like in German.)

_ _ _

I’ve written a day-by-day account of my stroke here.

62 comments:

  1. So a good approximation of 2ɻən 4tsʰan 4tsʰan would be 'ɹɛn 'tsæntsæn.

    I think most English-speakers can force themselves to produce an initial ts, but an accented schwa is probably a bridge too far.

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    1. Accented schwa is all over English -- it's found (in different accents) in NURSE, STRUT, FOOT and KIT. (However, NURSE can't occur immediately following /r/, so that wouldn't help with ɻən).

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  2. In the men’s marathon a Chinese runner called Si was repeatedly referred to as /saɪ/ rather than /sɨ/.

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  3. I'm surprised that people are surprised.

    If the Chinese want the sounds of particular names to be understood when written, the simple solution is not to use Pinyin.

    The simple and feasible solution, that is. The simple and unfeasible solution is for all the world — including sports commentators — to learn Pinyin.

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  4. Best wishes for your continued recovery. Have you noticed BBC weather man Peter Gibbs' unvoiced "th" in "though" - only on that word? idiosynchratic? Regards Ed

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  5. @David: I don't think it's the Chinese who chose the use of Pinyin in this case - it would have been a complicated chain of parties involving the International Olympic Committee, the BBC's sports desk, and whatever department of the Chinese government it is that deals with the olympic team.

    But why should Pinyin be more difficult than French or Polish orthography? It's just a bit less familiar, that's all. And I suppose the fact that Chinese words are also familiar in non-Pinyin transcriptions (e.g. Beijing vs. Peking) must confuse things a bit.

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  6. It seems to me that English, as the world language, is expected to respect the conventions of a source language to an extent other European languages are not. Thus, e.g. Germans and Swedes can still use the equivalents of "White Russia" and "Ivory Coast" while English must call these countries "Belarus" and "Côte d'Ivoire". And, whereas other Latin-alphabet languages get away with adhoc transliterations approximating their own spelling conventions, English must use a source-generated transliteration while also approximating the native pronunciation.

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    1. "Côte d'Ivoire" is the French name. This country is seldom mentioned in the British media but, when it is, the name "Ivory Coast" is used.

      You are correct on Belarus. I don't know why we are different from the rest of Europe in this case.

      For some reason, we assign a definite article to some countries, such as the Ukraine and the Congo.

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    2. Practice on Belarus is varied: the non-English Germanic languages tend to use "White Russia" (except in the GDR, where it was "Belorussland"), but the Romance languages use the Slavic name - e.g. French "Bélarus" or "Biélorussie".

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    3. I think White Russia was killed of by White Russians — in whose name white had a totally different significance.

      We did use to speak of Belorussia. But then it was a state of the Soviet Union with a seat in the UN. Historically, there was region called White Russia and that's how it appears in English-language history books — along with Little Russia aka The Ukraine. The more we came to see the latter as a state (also with a seat in the UN) rather than a region, the more prepared we were to drop the The.

      So White Russia, Belorussia and Belarus are three different entities — though the difference between the last two is not territorial.

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    4. Ad mollymooly

      'It seems to me that English, as the world language, is expected to respect the conventions of a source language to an extent other European languages are not.'

      Please enlighten me why this should be so, I can't see, honestly.

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  7. And the keiren event was usually pronounced ˈkɪərən in my experience.

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  8. Pete

    But why should Pinyin be more difficult than French or Polish orthography?

    There is a technical reason — to do with the differences signalled by t vs d — but that's irrelevant to the problems with c and e. I wouldn't expect the average spots fan — or even the average sports commentator — to know what letters c and e represent in Polish or French any more than what they represent in Chinese.

    Sound values in all or most European languages have broadly similar histories — arising from local pronunciations of Latin at different historical times, and from there back to Classical Latin. What makes Pinyin so different is that there's no historical depth and no unbroken descent from Classical latin values. French spelling-to-sound conventions are easy to pick up because of the shared history with English conventions. Polish is more difficult — because there are so many unfamiliar sounds and so many unfamiliar combinations of letter+diacritic. Even so, I can't think of a symbol-to-sound correspondence which seems perverse. If you see the old textile city written as Lodz, then the pronunciation is unexpected, but when it's written as Łódź you have three clues of three differences from the otherwise expected

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    1. That doesn't make sense about historical sound values. Only a few languages have sound systems that can be traced back to Latin.

      The only difference between Pinyin and Polish orthography is that, while Polish orthography is just as "alien" to English speakers, it's the only spelling system for the Polish language in use. Pinyin, on the other hand, exists in parallel with Wade-Giles and other transliteration systems.

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    2. I don't think there's anything particularly "perverse" about Pinyin (although Wade Giles does make it easier for uninformed Anglophones to make a resonable guess at the pronunciation). Allowing for devoicing, Pinyin z is pronounced as in Italian; c as in Slovenian; q as in Albanian; j as in English; x as in Portuguese.

      In my experience English commentators do no better with the consonants of Polish names than they do with those of Chinese. Those who care (a very small minority) will do some research and make a reasonable approximation of the native sound; the rest won't.

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    3. Pete

      That doesn't make sense about historical sound values. Only a few languages have sound systems that can be traced back to Latin.

      I wasn't talking about 'sound systems'. I was talking about symbol-to-letter correspondences. Even the seemingly chaotic English correspondences can be resolved into sub-systems that represent the way Latin was read aloud at different times in England, in France and in other places we took words from.

      That's why in all the European languages I'm familiar with the (apart from those using Cyrillic, of course), difference between the sounds of letters b, d, g and letters p, t, k is one of voiced vs voiceless — just as it is with the IPA. In Pinyin, unless I've misunderstood ably, the difference is between unaspirated and aspirated. Hence the bewilderment when Peking became Beijing and Mao Tse-tung became Mao Zedung. And hence the difficulty in even guessing the identity of Chinese place names that used to be represented differently.

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    4. vp

      Allowing for devoicing

      Yes, that's the sort of perverse-seeming mental exercise I had in mind.

      (Of course i'm not seriously suggesting that it was intended to be perverse.)

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    5. A number of north-west European languages have their b,d,g/p,t,k difference usually analysed as plain/aspirated too: Icelandic, Scottish Gaelic, Danish.

      And my Anglophone ears tend to map the plain/aspirated distinction in such languages onto the English one (which of course has an element of aspiration too) in the way suggested by Pinyin. If I listen to the sound file at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing my ears interpret the first two consonants as like English /b/ and /dʒ/ ("Bay-jing"), not /p/ and /tʃ/ ("Pay-ching"). So I think that from my point of view Pinyin is better than Wade-Giles in this respect.

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    6. David Crosbie, the same aspirated vs. unaspirated distinction also applies to Danish and Icelandic, and by some accounts even English and some accents of German (though my Bengali ears, even with the 4 way stop distinction-plain voiceless /p, k, &c./ vs. voiceless aspirated /pʰ, kʰ, &c./ vs. voiced /b, g, &c./ vs. breathy voiced /bʱ, gʱ, &c./-fails to map English /b, g, d/ to voiceless consonants.

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    7. JHJ, Samopriya Basu

      Interesting to learn of Icelandic and Danish. It prompts the question:- Why don't sports commentators and Joe Public have difficulty with Icelandic and Danish names that they see in writing? In particular how can the other Scandinavians experience so little difficulty?

      Could it be that voicing is a minor aspect of the difference? I seem to remember old philology books using the terms fortis and lenis in a way that could make an abstract distinction in all Germanic languages that found concrete expression as vocving in English and aspiration in Danish.

      Whatever the phonetic facts, it would seem that there is such a strong cognate element in the Germainc languages that sports commentators and Joe Public feel at home with the written versions of all the other languages.

      Scots Gaelic is another matter. The spelling is actually more forbidding than Pinyin/pinyin. Fortunately for us — though tragically for past generations of Highlanders and Islanders — cultural imperialism has seen to it that most Gaelic names have spellings that pose little difficulty for English readers.

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    8. Ad Samopriya Basu

      '(though my Bengali ears, even with the 4 way stop distinction-plain voiceless /p, k, &c./ '

      I'd suppose because the English /b, d, g/ are voiced or partly voiced as a concomitant feature, your Bengali aspirated /p, t, k/ are much more aspirated than the English ones.

      When I quote Polish words with a Polish unaspirated stop to Germans, for instance 'kot', cat, they tend to hear it as their voiced stops, so that our cat sounds to them like their God ('Gott'), except that the cat's final /t/ is not aspirated either, as distinct from their '-tt'. And in Franconian dialects they have unaspirated voiceless stops, rendered in spelling (if rendered) with a 'voiced' letter, e. g. 'Gatze', cat ('Katze').

      Re Chinese: I with my Polish ears do hear quite often their words spelt with the 'voiced' letters as ... voiced, though I know this must be wrong... yet I can't help hearing them that way, for instance their 'de' ('of')---heard it yesterday on the airport of Gdańsk---sounds very much like the homographous French word with more or less the same function. The vowel is somewhat different, though, but not toto coelo/caelo.

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    9. David Crosbie,

      "Why don't sports commentators and Joe Public have difficulty with Icelandic and Danish names that they see in writing? In particular how can the other Scandinavians experience so little difficulty?"

      Actually, they do - but it hardly matters - as as the aspirated /p, k, t/ in these languages map to aspirated phonemes in English (and other Germanic languages, except Dutch maybe), and so the actual phonetic realization of /b, g, d/ makes little difference. Moreover, Icelandic and Danish are equipped with some of the wildest and absolutely confusing sound systems (allophones and phonemes, stød and voiceless liquids); so, even if people get the plosives right, they'd still get the rest of the word wrong.

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  9. >Pinyin c is like in Polish, a voiceless alveolar affricate

    The announcers didn't know about Polish either! At least one Polish athlete whose name ended in -ecki (I don't remember the rest) got the [eki] treatment.

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    1. Russian stress posed a problem as well. I heard announcers say both "Isinbayeva" and "Mustafina" with an incorrect penultimate accent.

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    2. English-speaking association football commentators have a similar problem with Arsenal's Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický, often /rəˈzɪki/.

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    3. vp

      It seems that wherever Slavs with names in -cki migrate, they are given a spelling pronunciation in something like ɪki — a pronunciation that they eventually accept. It's commonplace in American, where there's usually a spelling change from icki to icky. The Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki keeps the family spelling but accepts a Danish spelling pronunciation.

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    4. Thanks goodness Mr Wells is back...

      >Pinyin c is like in Polish, a voiceless alveolar affricate

      not just like in Polish and Latvian, but also in Estonian (foreign names), Lithuanian, Czech, Lusatian (Upper and Lower), Slovak, Slovene, Serbo-Croatian (I believe in the existence of this language), Hungarian, Albanian, occasionally German (as in 'Cäsar', the Old French pronunciation of the Latin 'c' before front vowels) and Old French, which seems to be the first source of this phonetic value of the letter.

      In Slavic, the letter is popular due to the frequency of the corresponding sound (<-- Proto-Slavic /k/, on which David Crosbie has written several times, furnishing historical explanations). But a parallel evolution has taken place in Latvian, making the letter much-needed in that language (in the said phonetic value), whereas in the more archaic Lithuanian it occurs mainly in loanwords, if not exclusively. (Lithuanian 'kiek', Latvian 'cik', how much, 'kaina' 'cena', price, and so on. In Hungarian I don't know, tho' there seem to be quite a few native-looking H. words with a 'c' in the said phonetic value.

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    5. Ad David Crosbie,

      'Caroline Wozniacki keeps the family spelling'

      Woźniacki, to be quite strict, and to be even stricter, Woźniacka (see the paragraph on Polish feminine surnames on the German Wikipedia on 'Polnische Sprache'). So not quite family spelling, nor grammatical form.

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    6. Wojciech

      If you were a sportsman new on the scene, I suppose some commentators might call you wɔdʒsɪɛtʃ.

      Actually, this is unlikely — because, in various ways, it doesn't look like a name pronounced as it's (for us) spelled. One way that hasn't been commented on is the number of letters. Three-letter Can (bis) cries out for spelling pronunciation — unlike seven-letter Wojciech.

      In that long list of European languages you cited, do you know of any names with the orthographic structure cVC? And are there all that many 'ordinary' words like this?

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    7. Yeah, I haven't got a second or middle name, unfortunately, my parents had not thought that I might one day become worth pronouncing by foreigners.... Your observation concerning my name is quite right and enlightening.

      Names with cVC: unfortunately I don't know any of these languages well. A few Polish words: cud (miracle), cel (goal), cyc (tit), cal (inch), cap (buck), cep (flail), cech (guild).... quite a few. Proper names at the moment I can't think any of.

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    8. I once have heard the legend that Kant was originally spelt 'Cant' (the family and the name was of Scottish origin) but changed the spelling so that they might not pronounce it as 'tsant'. Se non e` vero...

      There is a Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom, but he is somewhat counterintuitively pronounced /ke:s/. What 'cees' is short for I wot not. Jacobus, perhas.

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  10. It's good to have you back, John.

    In the women's pentathlon yesterday, I noticed the pronunciation of Mhari Spence's first name with initial [m]. I have recently visited the Scottish Highlands, and have seen Scottish Gaelic on all the signs. Is Mhari not a Scottish Gaelic name? If so, should it not be pronounced with initial [v]?

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    1. It's the vocative of a Gaelic name, and vocatives in Gaelic have lenition of initial consonants, with mh indeed being pronounced [v]. (And in my experience it indeed usually is pronounced with [v], at least by Scots.)

      Similarly Gaelic Seumas has been borrowed in its vocative form Sheumais, anglicised to Hamish.

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    3. That's some good knowledge of Scottish Gaelic, JHJ. Actually, I misspelled the name: it's "Mhairi". This name is in LPD3, which gives the only RP as 'vɑ:r i

      I expect that a few Gaelic speakers complained to the BBC about this.

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  11. @mollymooly: I don't think English is genuinely different from other languages in that respect.

    Belarus, for example, is called something similar to Bjelarus in French, Italian, Arabic, Swahili, Irish, Welsh, Basque, Maltese, Indonesian, Urdu, Hebrew and lots of other languages too. But, from looking at the titles of the Wikipedia article on Belarus, it seems English is the only Germanic language (not including Scots) to use a Slavic name for that country: German, Dutch and all the Scandinavian languages use a Germanic translation that looks something like White Russland. Turkish, too, calls it Beyaz Rusya. But those languages are still in a minority, and English is in the majority of languages that simply force the Slavic name into their native sound patterns.

    And I call the Ivory Coast Ivory Coast when I'm speaking English, although Huw Edwards does call it kəʊt di'vwɑː (and he calls Niger nɪ'ʒɛə).

    Also, I don't think most Latin-alphabet languages transliterate loanwords from other Latin-alphabet languages. One exception I can think of is Serbian, which definitely does do that when it uses Latin letters. And Turkish again.

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    1. Pete

      Also, I don't think most Latin-alphabet languages transliterate loanwords from other Latin-alphabet languages.

      I'd go further. Most language don't transliterate from other languages. They transcribe. Sometimes the transcription is not very good. And sometimes they don't hear the sound very well before transcribing.

      There's a particular problem with names. Geographical names are suck with obstinately 'authentic' spellings on maps, on international timetables, and in general on documents that need to be constant. Similarly with personal names that have to appear unchanged on passports and the documentation of sports events.

      Huw Edwards does call it kəʊt di'vwɑː

      The country has made official complaints. At some conferences it was Ivory Coast sitting next to Israel. At others is was Côte d'Ivoire (their preferred name) and even Elfenbeinküste . The BBC has listened to their complaint and passed on the word to Hugh.

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    2. > Latvian is another

      And a bit closer to home, Spanish líder (leader) and fûtbol. I don't know how typical these examples are, though.

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    3. 'Also, I don't think most Latin-alphabet languages transliterate loanwords from other Latin-alphabet languages.'

      As a madder-of-fact, we (Pl) used to polonise foreign names up to like the fifties, perhaps, I can't remember exactly, but some time thereabouts. I first learnt Shakespeare as 'Szekspir", Voltaire as "Wolter", 'Schiller" as "Szyller" and such-like. I was duly shocked to learn what they were spelled in reality, that is, in their respective native-tongues. Now we don't, but we have retained 'futbol' for instance. I think Latvians and Lithuanians still do, plus they append endings, case-endings I mean, without which the words would not be declinabe. Volters, Volteras, Lenins, Leninas, the shorter form is always Latvian. It's old-fashioned, in a way, sort of like the Anglo-Saxons dropping accents and other diacritic sings, Handel for Händel and such... And yes, we too use "lider" (leader). Non-polonised foreign names and words are often pronounced terribly, for instance the Italian "ch" (gnocchi, macchiato) is often a "ch" with the Spanish or English phonetic value.

      Anglicisation galore: Gaelic and perhaps Welsh names, all the Nuallains turned Nolans, Caomhins-Kevins, this is not a tu-quoque reproach, just an observation.

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    4. Wojciech

      I first learnt Shakespeare as 'Szekspir", Voltaire as "Wolter", 'Schiller" as "Szyller" and such-like..

      Surely that's transcription, not transliteration. And using the original spelling is neither.

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    5. Yes, but substituting ..scription for ...literation was the only way I could make sense of the above note: (Pete's):

      'Also, I don't think most Latin-alphabet languages transliterate loanwords from other Latin-alphabet languages'

      if you read 'transliterate' literally in the above you start wondering why Pete thinks he only 'does not think' that they transliterate, as there is nothing to 'think'. You cannot transliterate from Latin alphabet to Latin alphabet, can you? The context (Serbian, Turkish, Latvian) convinced me, though, that what he meant was 'transcribing'.

      UNLESS --- unless perhaps --- by 'transliterating from Latin alphabet to Latin alphabet' you should mean such as Händel-->Handel or Woźniacki-->Wozniacki, but in this case I'd say the description of what you are doing is wrong: you're transliterating not from Latin alphabet to Latin alphabet, but from one national version of same to another.

      Gosh, I am getting pedantic, sorry...

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  12. So that's yet another thing Esperanto stole...er, acquired from Polish. In Esperanto, c = [ts]

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    1. I think in principle c is /t͡s/ because if it was /ts/ then it would be written ts. At least, I've generally heard Esperantists claim that Esperanto orthography is phonemic, and that this makes it easier to learn. Well if so, then logically c, ĉ and ĝ should contrast with ts, and respectively. For Polish speakers, who routinely contrast trzy (/tʃɨ/) with czy (/t͡ʃɨ/), this presumably presents no great difficulty, but for many other people, contrasting an affricate with the corresponding stop-fricative sequence may be a tall order. In practice it's heavily mitigated by the fact that Esperanto roots don't (to my knowledge) contain these sequences, but they could occur in constructed words – so at least in principle Esperantists ought to be able to produce and hear the contrast between atencata (=being assaulted) and atentsata (=sated with attention), notwithstanding the fact that the latter word is somewhat contrived and could also be rendered atentosata to help pronuncation.

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  13. Good to have you back! Best wishes for a continued recovery

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  14. Some years ago the authorities in the Swiss city of what was then known in English as Basle insisted that it be referred to, in English, as Basel, spelt and pronounced the same as in German. But they had no problem with French sticking with Bâle and Italian with Basilea.

    This is similar to the Chinese insistence, in English, on Beijing rather than Peking, but letting French continue with Pékin, Russian with Пекин, etc.

    Both these cases simply reflect the status of English as a global lingua franca.

    Incidentally I see no reason to dignify the word pinyin with an initial capital letter.

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    1. It's a shame really - I love the naturalised names of foreign cities like Parigi, Monaco di Bavaria, Naples, Eabhrac, Varsovie, and my favourite, Mikligarður.

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    2. I love them too. Monaco di Baviera, btw. And, in Italian's parent-language, (Novum) Eboracum, to be seen on title pages of (for instance) Latin editions of Aristotle. If actually published in N.YC.

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    3. 'Some years ago the authorities in the Swiss city of what was then known in English as Basle insisted that it be referred to,'

      what an idiocy. Was anyone cowardly enough to comply with that 'regulation'?

      I fail to see, though, how such-like could be supposed to reflect English's status as a/the lingua franca.

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  15. I am full of sympathy for the commentator needing to pronounce Ren Cancan's name. I'm in Singapore and there's some exposure to pinyin, but q, z and c still give me problems as a non-Mandarin speaker. Many Chinese people with pinyin names and living overseas realise this problem give themselves English names (some of these English names might be outrageous, but they aren't difficult to pronounce for the English speaker).

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  16. Wojciech

    "I'd suppose because the English /b, d, g/ are voiced or partly voiced as a concomitant feature, your Bengali aspirated /p, t, k/ are much more aspirated than the English ones."

    Aspiration is not my issue: I do think English /p, k, t, tʃ/ are aspirated and are exactly similar to Bengali (and other Indo-Aryan) aspirates /pʰ, kʰ, tʰ, tʃʰ/, despite your claims about more/less aspiration (and indeed the claims of several others). My problem is with the exact phonetic nature of English /b, g, d, dʒ/, which as you've pointed out are "partly voiced as a concomitant feature" - but I don't understand "partly voiced". But, I suppose this sort of subtle distinctions are not for the human ear to hear.

    Anyway, since you seem to be quite an authority on German, I ask this quite-astray-from-Pīnyīn question. John Wells, toward the beginning of this post, says, "Its unaspirated counterpart is spelt z, like in German.": shouldn't the German /ts/ be aspirated as well, as should German /tʃ/, spelled tsch? German aspirates /p, t, k/, so why not the affricates; beats me. English aspirates both its plosives and the lone affricate, and if Wikipedia is anything to go by, so do Turkish and Persian, so why should German affricates behave, well..., funny.

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    1. For partly voiced consonants the linguist have a word, it is some 'voice', I forget which. I hear the English 'b', 'd', 'g' as voiced most of time,except perhaps finally. But I hear also the corresponding Chinese sounds quite often as voiced, too. I normally don't hear the English voiceless stops (or German ones) as aspirated, except when they start speaking a language like Dutch, Italian or Polish, in which the voiceless stops stand out as aspirated (in their performance) and make for a foreign accent.

      Re the German "z", methinks it is non-aspirated, but I'll have to check. German does not aspirate all 'p's, etc. for instance after 's-' it's not aspirated: sprechen, Stein, Skala, all unaspirated. Neither is the specifically German sound 'pf' aspirated, methinks.

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    2. Canepari says that stressed /ts/ and /pf/ are both aspirated in German. I'm not knowledgeable enough to offer my own opinion on the German affricates, but I do find my own stressed English /tʃ/ to be aspirated. In a case of the exception that proves the rule, my idiolect has an anomalous unspirated /tʃ/ in "exchange" [ɪkˈstʃeɪndʒ] and "exchequer" [ɪkˈstʃɛkɚ] and nowhere else.

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    3. @Lazar Taxon:

      Hardly anomalous: just examples of the usual English rule suppressing aspiration after sibilants.

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    4. Canepari has oftentimes quite eccentric views and is opinionated on such things as the phonetics of Old Church Slavonic and other languages dead long since. In the descriptions I could quickly get hold of there is no mention of either /ts/'s and /pf/'s aspiratedness and in the pronunciationn of my family members who are NS of German nor of other Germans known to me I can hear no aspiration. Do you aspirate the stops in such words as 'speak', 'abstain', 'scale', 'exchequer', or 'eschew'?

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    5. I pronounce all those consonants unaspirated (thanks for mentioning "eschew", as I'd forgotten about it). The reason why I called my [ˈstʃ] anomalous is that it can't occur word-initially, and that dictionaries only seem to attest /ɪksˈtʃeɪndʒ/, etc. - so I don't know whether [ˈstʃ] is part of the standard language or just a quirk of my lect.

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    6. [ɪksˈtʃeɪndʒ] looks like an etymological analysis, phonetically it is probably [ɪk'stʃeɪndʒ].

      In any event, I do not think, really, that the German [ts] or [pf] or any such be aspirated, I can't hear it and can't recall having ever heard it. But you aspirate your 'ch' in 'check' --- do you really say 'ch-h-eck', like?

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    7. Yeah, I say [tʃʰɛk], treating it just as if it were a plosive. It's a subtle thing, but I can tell that my affricate is more 'fortis' than the one in, say, Spanish "cheque".

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    8. I seem to have heard such pronunciation while I was in the US and had more exposure to native spoken English. So there would be a difference between the German 'Tscheche' and the English 'Czech', the latter aspirated, the former not? I don't think most Germans aspirate their 'Tsch-'.

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