Phonetics, sound inventory
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies the sounds of human speech. It also includes sign languages, as it studies the gestural and visual composition of signs.
Phonetics is concerned with the physical production, transmission, and perception of sounds. Phonology, on the other hand, deals with the patterning of sounds within a language. Here, the phoneme is of crucial importance. Phonemes are perceptual units that are the building blocks of the (spoken or signed) words of a language.
Phonetic transcription is a way of representing the sounds that occur in human languages independently of the way they are written. The most widely known system is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), mostly based on the Latin alphabet, which is able to transcribe features of speech such as consonants, vowels, and suprasegmental features. It is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators, and translators.
Relation between phones and phonemes
The phone is the basic unit of sound for human speech, while the phoneme is the basic unit of sound for specific languages. A phoneme is an abstract unit for a given language and will include a number of different phones. This is reflected in different levels of transcription. The purpose of phonetic transcription (usually in square brackets) is to transcribe sounds (phones) so that the exact articulation is recorded, whereas phonemic transcription (usually in slashes) transcribes the words in terms of how sounds are categorized in a given language. The border between phonemic and phonetic transcription is not always clear–narrow phonetic transcription captures more variations in sounds while broad phonetic transcription captures only the most noticeable features and blends into phonemic transcription.
For example, a common pronunciation of the English word “red” could be narrowly transcribed as [ɹ̠ʷɛd], where [ɹ] stands for the American -r- (an alveolar approximant), the minus sign beneath shows that it is retracted (produced further back in the mouth than usual) and [ʷ] signals labialization (the lips are slightly rounded). A broader transcription could be just [ɹʷɛd] (not marking the retraction) or broader yet [ɹɛd], but the phonemic transcription would be just /red/, not showing the possible variants of /r/.
22 - 24.09.2020 - 22-24/100 Days of Productivity
• cleaning, cleaning • shopping • zoom meeting • preparing for the start of academic year •
This is the first page of my new journal. I hope that it’ll keep me organised during this academic year. Also, this is my first journal - do you have any tips or ideas of how to fill it?
(in case you wanted to know because i fucking love this language)
- ad astra per aspera - to the stars through difficulties
- alis volat propriis - he flies by his own wings
- amantium irae amoris integratio est - the quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love
- ars longa, vita brevis - art is long, life is short
- aut insanity homo, aut versus facit - the fellow is either mad or he is composing verses
- dum spiro spero - while I breathe, I hope
- ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem - with the sword, she seeks peace under liberty
- exigo a me non ut optimus par sim sed ut malis melior - I require myself not to be equal to the best, but to be better than the bad
- experiential docet - experience teaches
- helluo librorum - a glutton for books (bookworm)
- in libras libertas - in books, freedom
- littera scripta manet - the written letter lasts
- mens regnum bona possidet - an honest heart is a kingdom in itself
- mirabile dictu - wonderful to say
- nullus est liber tam malus ut non aliqua parte prosit - there is no book so bad that it is not profitable in some part
- omnia iam fient quae posse negabam - everything which I used to say could not happen, will happen now
- poeta nascitur, non fit - the poet is born, not made
- qui dedit benificium taceat; narrat qui accepit - let him who has done a good deed be silent; let him who has received it tell it
- saepe ne utile quidem est scire quid futurum sit - often, it is not advantageous to know what will be
- sedit qui timuit ne non succederet - he who feared he would not succeed sat still
- si vis pacem, para bellum - if you want peace, prepare for war
- struit insidias lacrimis cum feminia plorat - when a woman weeps, she is setting traps with her tears
- sub rosa - under the rose
- trahimir omnes laudis studio - we are led on by our eagerness for praise
- urbem latericium invenit, marmoream reliquit - he found the city a city of bricks; he left it a city of marble
- ut incepit fidelis sic permanet - as loyal as she began, so she remains
I recently wondered if there was a way to visualise some aspects of the phonological character of Quenya and Sindarin, and the differences between them. The following charts are based on the Namárië poem for Quenya and The King’s Letter for Sindarin. I did a broad phonological transcription for both, then ran frequency counts and relative frequencies on the phonemes. And here are some of the results!
1. Tolkien liked his alveolar stops! And whilst Quenya shows a preference for voiceless stops over voiced stops, the reverse is true of Sindarin.
Part of the reason why the Sindarin voiced stops are so prevalent is due to the extensive consonant mutation system of Sindarin. In the case of stop consonants, the soft mutation turns voiceless stops into voiced stops in certain phonological and/or grammatical environments.
2. Both Quenya and Sindarin prefer front vowels over back vowels, i.e. /i/ and /e/ are preferred over /u/ and /o/ (the Sindarin text happened not to have /u/ at all). The low vowel /ɑ/ is the most frequent vowel in both languages.
Tolkien wrote that in Quenya, the vowel sign for /ɑ/ was often left out in writing, e.g. calma ‘lamp’ could be written as clm (using the equivalent Elvish characters, of course!).
3. Quenya seems to be more vowel-heavy than Sindarin, but Sindarin’s consonants seem to have a larger proportion of liquids, nasals and fricatives … and Sindarin /n/ and /r/ are super-popular!
Almost half of the phonemes shown for Quenya are vowels, compared with two-fifths in Sindarin. As Tolkien wrote, Quenya words more often ended in a vowel, whilst those in Sindarin more often ended in a consonant.
In Sindarin, about two in seven phonemes (of those shown in the chart) is either /r/ or /n/! In Quenya, /n/ appears about twice as often as /m/, but in Sindarin, /n/ appears about seven times more often than /m/!
Alright guys, so I am about to share a website that was both a blessing and bane in my French journey. The website is called Conjuguemos, and my French teacher made us conjugate like no one’s business on here. It’s super easy to use and it has been vital to my ability to conjugate well. Activities are available in French, German, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, and Latin! I only have experience with the French verb section, but I bet all of their stuff is just as amazing! Here’s all they offer:
Good luck in your verb journey!
Do you have any tips for keeping fluency in a language when you Are fluent want to begin learning other languages?
Thank you anon for this question! Yes, I do, although I am fluent only in two languages so it’s not very hard. If you live in a foreign country, keeping fluency is not difficult. But if you don’t, I hope this tips will help you with maintaining fluency!
Tips for keeping fluency in a language - while starting learning another one
Learn a new language in your second language
- I’m looking for resources for my target language in my second language
I’m learning Spanish now and instead of Polish-Spanish dictionary I’m using English-Spanish dictionary.
When I started learning Japanese I found Spanish speaking YouTubers who talked about Japan and Japanese.
- Use vocabulary lists in your second - target language or native - second - target language
- Search for the grammar descriptions in the language most similar to the one you’re learning
Polish and Latin both have declensions and conjugations so learning Latin in Polish is far easier than learning it in English which doesn’t have cases. So choose wisely ;)
Keep fluency on daily basis
- Firstly and most importantly, think in your second language, instead of your native language
That’s so important and can be done anytime. Requires maybe a little bit more brain power but that’s worth it. (And if you can’t think in the language, how are you even fluent?)
- Use a language on a daily basis
Do the shopping list, count, say hi and thanks to your friends in that language, read the news etc.
Read in that language - news, books, newspapers, literally anything will do. I have this privilege that my second language is English and nowadays on internet almost everything is in English. But if it’s not the case for you, try to follow more people on social media that post in your second language. If you check wikipedia for something, do this in your second, third language.
Listen to the radio, podcast. Watch movies, YouTube, TV. Anything will do ;)
- Write (optional)
If you keep a diary or a planner, write in your second language. On Tumblr you can write posts in your second language (and hope that if you make mistakes someone will correct you).
***I use most of these tips on a daily basis and I would say that my English is quite alright 😅 If I discover something new, I’ll add it on!***
Legolas pretty quickly gets in the habit of venting about his travelling companions in Elvish, so long as Gandalf & Aragorn aren’t in earshot they’ll never know right?
Then about a week into their journey like
Legolas: *in Elvish, for approximately the 20th time* ugh fucking hobbits, so annoying
Frodo: *also in Elvish, deadpan* yeah we’re the worst
Legolas: ugh fucking hobbits
Merry: Frodo what’d he say
Frodo: I’m not sure he speaks a weird dialect but I think he’s insulting us. I should tell him I can understand Elvish
Merry: I mean you could do that but consider
Merry: you can only tell him ONCE
Frodo: Merry. You’re absolutely right. I’ll wait.
Legolas: umm well your accent is horrible
Aragorn: *hollering from a distance* HIS ACCENT IS BETTER THAN YOURS LEGOLAS YOU SILVAN HICK
Frodo: Hello. My name is Frodo. I am a Hobbit. How are you?
Frodo, crying: please I can’t understand what you’r saying
Ok, but Frodo didn’t just learn out of a book. He learned like… Chaucerian Elvish. So actually:
Frodo: Good morrow to thee, frend. I hope we twain shalle bee moste excellente companions.
Legolas: Wots that mate? ‘Ere, you avin’ a giggle? Fookin’ ‘obbits, I sware.
Aragorn: *laughing too hard to walk*
i mean, honestly it’s amazing the Elves had as many languages and dialects as they did, considering Galadriel (for example) is over seven thousand years old.
english would probably have changed less since Chaucer’s time, if a lot of our cultural leaders from the thirteenth century were still alive and running things.
they’ve had like. seven generations since the sun happened, max. frodo’s books are old to him, but outside any very old poetry copied down exactly, the dialect represented in them isn’t likely to be older than the Second Age, wherein Aragorn’s foster-father Elrond started out as a very young adult and grew into himself, and Legolas’ father was born.
so like, three to six thousand years old, maybe, which is probably a drop in the bucket of Elvish history judging by all the ethnic differentiation that had time to develop before Ungoliant came along, even if we can’t really tell because there weren’t years to count, before the Trees were destroyed.
plus a lot of Bilbo’s materials were probably directly from Elrond, whose library dates largely from the Third Age, probably, because he didn’t establish Imladris until after the Last Alliance. and Elrond isn’t the type to intentionally help Bilbo learn the wrong dialect and sound sillier than can be helped, even if everyone was humoring him more than a little.
so Frodo might sound hilariously formal for conversational use (though considering how most Elves use Westron he’s probably safe there) and kind of old-fashioned, but he’s not in any danger of being incomprehensible, because elves live on such a ridiculous timescale.
to over-analyse this awesome and hilarious post even more, legolas’ grandfather was from linguistically stubborn Doriath and their family is actually from a somewhat different, higher-status ethnic background than their subjects.
so depending on how much of a role Thranduil took in his upbringing (and Oropher in his), Legolas may have some weird stilted old-fashioned speaking tics in his Sindarin that reflect a more purely Doriathrin dialect rather than the Doriathrin-influenced Western Sindarin that became the most widely spoken Sindarin long before he was born, or he might have a School Voice from having been taught how to Speak Proper and then lapse into really obscure colloquial Avari dialect when he’s being casual. or both!
considering legolas’ moderately complicated political position, i expect he can code-switch.
…it’s also fairly likely considering the linguistic politics involved that Legolas is reasonably articulate in Sindarin, though with some level of accent, but knows approximately zero Quenya outside of loanwords into Sindarin, and even those he mostly didn’t learn as a kid.
which would be extra hilarious when he and gimli fetch up in Valinor in his little homemade skiff, if the first elves he meets have never been to Middle Earth and they’re just standing there on the beach reduced to miming about what is the short beard person, and who are you, and why.
this is elvish dialects and tolkien, okay. there’s a lot of canon material! he actually initially developed the history of middle-earth specifically to ground the linguistic development of the various Elvish languages!
Legolas: Alas, verily would I have dispatched thine enemy posthaste, but y’all’d’ve pitched a feckin’ fit.
Aragorn: *eyelid twitching*
Frodo: *frantically scribbling* Hang on which language are you even speaking right now
Pippin, confused: Is he not speaking Elvish?
Frodo, sarcastically: I dunno, are you speaking Hobbit?
Boromir, who has been lowkey pissed-off at the Hobbits’ weird dialect this whole time: That’s what it sounds like to me.
Merry, who actually knows some shit about Hobbit background: We are actually speaking multiple variants of the Shire dialect of Westron, you ignorant fuck.
Sam, a mere working-class country boy: Honestly y'all could be talkin Dwarvish half the time for all I know.
Pippin, entering Gondor and speaking to the castle steward: hey yo my man
Boromir, from beyond the grave: j e s u s
Tolkien would be SO PROUD of this post
If I remember correctly, in the “tree of tongues” material from The Lost Road, Tolkien goes into some detail about how the reason elves have so many dialects is that elves view language as a form of collaborative art, which they delight in, so a newly-coined word or grammatical construct gets spread around just like a new song would.
Elves may be immortal, but they’re also immortal nerd OCs and we must never forget this
Thank you for this addition which is both lovely and educational
So what you’re saying is, they’re us. They’re the internet. Sending “yeet” and “smol” and “I lik the bred” all over creation until two elves who’ve never met in their lives and be like “beans, amirite?” and “yeah I love kitter feets too.”
19 - 21.09.2020 - 19-21/100 Days of Productivity
• cleaning • cleaning • cleaning • a little bit of cooking and Spanish •
I started learning playing the guitar!
In my linguistics class we had a Chinese girl who had adopted a European name. We all didn’t speak Cantonese and understood her wish to not have her name butchered all the time, except for one of us, a guy who thought he knew to differentiate between tones perfectly because he was learning Vietnamese. He saw himself as super woke and he thought it was wrong for her to adopt a European name when we should just try harder to pronounce her Chinese name (which honestly is just really difficult if you don’t speak the language at all, even for linguists). So he would constantly call her by her Chinese name which she initially didn’t even want to share, but he kept asking her for it, and from the look on her face I could tell that he did not get it right, and that she didn’t like it at all. The first time he did it she even told him it wasn’t correct, but he kept going, so sure he knew how to pronounce it. So like I 100% agree that we should put in effort to pronounce names from foreign languages and not give up on the first try if we get it wrong, but we should also respect people’s wishes when they know we can’t do it/they know it takes too much effort for them to teach us how to pronounce it. In that case, we should just use the name we’re being told to use. It’s that simple.
Fellow linguists, don’t be that guy™
- Lose hope that they will learn their target language.
- Think to start (or start) learning multiple languages at the same time.
- Dream how they will travel the world.
- Listened/Watched at least 1 song/movie from Disney.
- Think there’s a secret method that make them learn faster any language.
- Try to find that method.
- Take a long break (sometimes months/years) from their studies.
- Want to learn ALL the languages in THAT exact moment.
- Have an order/list for their future target languages.
- Have/Know of resources that they will probably never use.
- Have a mini party in their mind when they see a word they JUST learned.
- Use duolingo/memrise at least once in their life.
- Think that there must be something they do wrong.
- Think they mastered a skill that they actually didn’t master.
- Have/Know people with different nationalities. And when others hear “Yeah, my friend from Australia.”, “The girl from Japan.”, “The dude from Denmark.” etc. always wonder where did you find all these people.
- Have a multilingual playlist.
- Admire/Hate someone for knowing more languages than them. (Sometimes they hate/admire the native for knowing the language.)
- Feel lost because they don’t know what to do next in their journey.
- Try to improve that one skill that is
a bitchweaker than the others.
- Change their methods.
- Imagine how good they will be.
- Change their phone to be in their target language.
- Change some of their social media too.
- Remember words in several languages but the one they need.
- Forget words in their native language.
- Forget in which language you’ve read something.
- Hit a plateau.
- Procrastinate a language with another language or procrastinate something important with languages.
- Get excited when they see clothes with quotes in different languages. Or critic the clothes if the spelling isn’t right.
- Want/Have at least 1 book in another language.
- Try to read a popular/universal book in their target language. i.e.: Harry Potter, The Little Prince, Alice in Wonderland etc.
- Feel embarassed for a mistake.
- Think if there’s a way to get paid resources for free.
- Wonder if there’s a certain method for taking notes from a textbook.
- Worry that they use the wrong stuff.
- Worry that others are judging them for their skills.
- Get a surprise dose of motivation and think it will last forever but it doesn’t even last more than 5minutes in some cases.
- Underestimate their skills.
- Get so motivated by a certain language that they want to learn it in that exact moment but 5 seconds later they get their chill back.
18.09.2020 - 18/100 Days of Productivity
• Spanish conversation • packing • practicing piano • cleaning •