51

The question could be interpreted as being about "vowel letters". "Twyndyllyngs" is a candidate: said to come from Welsh. If we take "vowels" to be the letters [ieaou], then Norwegian råbygg has no vowels. The defect in the reasoning there is that in Norwegian, y, å, ø, æ are also "vowel letters", so you have to assume ...


26

WARNING: The question is sooo many-sided, it is very wide and can be split into at least 3 different questions. I'll answer it all, don't tell me later that you haven't been warned the answer would be long. First of all, this letter has no sound of its own. The main function of the soft sign <Ь> in Russian is to change the sound of the consonant letter ...


15

Sanskrit, the Middle Indian languages, and most modern Indo-Aryan languages have a four-way distinction p~ph~b~bh. Punjabi has lost the bh-series (‘voiced aspirates’) and replaced it by a difference in tone, so it can be argued that Punjabi has only a three-way distinction p~ph~b (though it could also be argued that it has a four-way distinction at a ...


13

As leoboiko mentioned, there are languages with voiceless liquids, like Icelandic. In the IPA, they are simply transcribed with a voicelessness ring diacritic: [r̥] and [l̥]. In Icelandic, these sounds can be analyzed as allophonic realizations of /r/ and /l/ in some contexts, or as the sequences /hr/ and /hl/ in other contexts. It's similar to how in ...


13

There is a theory, applicable to all human languages, that is even encoded in what certain words mean in linguistics. Namely, "related" is taken to be a claim about genetic (historical) relations between languages. When we say that English and German are related, we mean that they historically derive from a single language. When we say that English and ...


13

There's a word (a sentence actually) in the Canadian language Bella Coola (aka Nuxalk) that only consists of obstruents (no vowels at all) and is longer than the Czech word you mentioned in the question: clhp'xwlhtlhplhhskwts': [xɬpʼχʷɬtʰɬpʰɬːskʷʰt͡sʼ] /xɬ-pʼχʷɬt-ɬp-ɬɬ-s=kʷt͡sʼ/ it translates to “then he had had in his possession a bunchberry plant” (Nater ...


12

Definitely yes, only your phonetic notation is not very correct. Proto-Indo-European had such stops, Sanskrit and most Indian languages have them, too ([bʱ], [d̪ʱ], [gʱ], [dʒʱ], [ɖʱ]), the very name of India in Hindi, भारत [ˈbʱaːrət̪], has the [bʱ] sound, you can listen to the word here. Note, since the stops are voiced, so the aspiration is also voiced (...


12

Not even African languages in general: clicks seem to have originated only in the Khoisan language "family" (*), and spread from there into neighboring languages. In other words, clicks don't seem to be an African feature so much as a Khoisan feature. As for why they're only a Khoisan feature—it really seems to be pure random luck! Clicks appear ...


9

On the Konstanz University site there is a project, DAS GRAMMATISCHE RARITÄTENKABINETT, "a leisurely collection to entertain and instruct". There we find an entry on the Dravidian language "Toda" with these notes: Phenomenon | apical trills at three places of articulation (fronted alveolar, alveolar, retroflex) (see Image), both without and with ...


9

Theoretically, there is a difference in most cases. In IPA, the raised j symbol <ʲ>, represents "palatalization," or a "palatal secondary articulation." The concept of a "secondary articulation" is itself somewhat vague. A palatal secondary articulation might occur simultaneously, slightly before, or slightly after the primary articulation of a consonant,...


9

"W" developed as a standard, distinct letter by about the 17th century, taking its sweet time getting there. It is the result of standardizing a ligature of "vv", ramming the letters together. Bear in mind that the Latin alphabet did not distinguish "u" and "v" as one can see from inspecting Latin inscriptions (modern publications do, however, generously ...


9

Don't take spelling too seriously, it's often conventional and arbitrary. Language is primarily a spoken thing rather than a string of written letters. Don't confuse sounds (phonemes) with their written symbols. Letters and phonemes have their own separate lives. With this proviso, I can try to answer some of your questions. how can W be a consonant? Its ...


9

Tragically, the letter "#" has two meanings. In linguistics, it is used to refer to a word boundary. More generally (i.e. not in the special usage of linguists), it (the number sign) stands for "number". The consequence of shorthand is obscurity. So, the entire sentence should probably read, "the number of consonants is always larger than the number of ...


9

You'll notice that all of these words include ch in German and gh in English. These originally represented the same sound: a voiceless velar fricative, written as /x/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet. (It's the final sound in loch, if you pronounce that different from lock.) Both English and German inherited this consonant from Proto-Germanic, where ...


8

One way to get a better grasp of the phonetics of syllabic consonants is to listen to a minimal pair in a language that has them, such as here. This is the pair [mbááŋgàà m̩̀bááŋgàà] (in that order) meaning "I am arranging", "you pl. are arranging", in Logoori. Phonologically, the difference is that [m̩] is an entire syllable, and [m] is just a consonant ...


8

The first reason for [sɪŋ.ɪŋ] is the premise that [ŋ] only appears in the coda. The main argument for that conclusion is the analogy between word position and syllable position. Steriade has some discussion (reference not available at the moment) questioning syllables (attributing speaker behavioral such as intuitions to analogy to word-positions), and I ...


8

There is no general solution, other than practice, practice, practice. The most important thing to understand is that purported /p,b,pʰ/ are not the same in all languages, so you have to learn them in a specific language. No magic trick will give you the ability to hear a phonetic difference. Learning the distinction in Taiwanese might make it easier to ...


7

In general, yes--the F0 (fundamental frequency) of the voicing during a stop closure is going to be lower than that of the following vowel. The fact that there is a full closure in the oral tract (for non-nasal stops) means that there is nowhere for the air coming out of the lungs to escape, making it difficult to maintain a high velocity of air through the ...


7

The Latin term is a calque from Greek σύμφωνον "pronounced with". According to Dionysius Thrax, they "do not have a sound on their own, but, when arranged with vowels, they produce a sound". Aristotle (poetics) expressed the same view of "mutes" being without sound of their own: "Such sounds may be subdivided into vowel, semi-vowel, and mute. A vowel is ...


7

The English "j" sound is a voiced postalveolar affricate, transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet as /dʒ/. It is indeed the voiced counterpart to the voiceless "ch" sound /tʃ/. The phones [dʒ] and [tʃ] are both fairly common, as far as affricates go. Voiced obstruents are generally less common than voiceless ones, and [dʒ] is less common than [tʃ]...


7

I'm sure there's a lot, but one example would be Icelandic. hlít /l̥iːt/ ‘throughly’ lít /liːt/ ‘I look; you look’ hraða /r̥aːða/ ‘to speed up’ raða /raːða/ ‘to put in order; to employ’ Of course, that depends on the kind of ‘r’ you're talking about; the above is the alveolar trill. If you mean the unusual English approximant, then I don't know a language ...


7

Welsh has 'rh' and 'll' as the unvoiced counterparts of 'r' and 'l'.


7

There is the famous UPSID database: http://phonetics.linguistics.ucla.edu/sales/software.htm


7

This is an example of areal phonetics, where certain phonetic properties are relatively widely exploited in one area, but is rare (or nonexistent) elsewhere. Another example is labiovelars such as [kp], which are almost all in the "Central Sudanic belt" of subsaharan Africa. They are universal and numerous in the "Khoisan" languages of southern Africa, also ...


7

There are some factors that make vowels more volatile than consonants in general Consonants have fixed points of articulation and modes of articulation while vowels live in a continuous space In most languages, consonants have a higher surprisal than vowels, i.e., they carry more information So vowels can shift around more freely than consonants. But this ...


6

In some Berber languages, we can find 4 sorts of trill : [r], [rˤ], [ʀ], [ʀ̥]. But it is not certain that it may be considered phonemes (for some Berber varieties it can be true whereas for others obviously it is not the case). These sounds can be, respectively, the surface forms of : geminated tap, pharyngalized geminated tap, geminated voiced uvular ...


6

To rephrase the first answer above: Spanish /x/ comes from earlier /ʃ/ by a process of backing. Old Spanish of the 1300's had the sounds /ʃ ṣ ts ʒ ẓ dz/ where /ṣ ẓ/ indicate apico-alveolar sibilants. By the 1400's this had become /ʃ ṣ s ʒ ẓ z/ with apico-alveolar /ṣ ẓ/ vs. lamino-dental /s z/ (similar to English). The sound /ṣ/ was quite similar to /ʃ/ on ...


6

I think you're just hearing the lack of aspiration; English and German "t" is generally aspirated at the start of a syllable, while Spanish and Italian generally lack aspiration on voiceless plosives (but their voiced plosives start their voicing earlier). (For a more detailed comparison of English and Spanish plosives, see The Sounds of Spanish, by José ...


6

Syncope is actually a particular kind of rhythmically-governed vowel elision. There is no general word that refers to intervocalic consonant deletion. The closest you can get is "lenition", which often results in deletion, but is not restricted to "intervocalic", and it has other outcomes (such as /k/ → [g]).


6

I'll just add a bit of fuel to the above fire. As Sumelic notes, Zulu (and other Nguni languages) have /ɮ, ɬ, l/. The fact that /ɮ, l/ contrast suggests that /ɬ/ which is a voiceless version of /ɮ/ is not "voiceless l", it is a voiceless lateral fricative (as he notes), and not a voiceless /l/. Similarly, the existence of /ɬ/ in Lushootseed and numerous ...


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