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82

In Arabic, in fact, they've always been separate sounds! The sound we write "K" is spelled with the letter ك in Arabic, and is pronounced a little bit further forward in the mouth; the sound we write "Q" is spelled with the letter ق and pronounced a little bit farther back. In phonetic terms, "K" is a velar sound, and "Q" is a uvular sound. English doesn't ...


13

I was going to propose Julius Klaproth, in his 1823 book Asia Polyglotta. He notates the difference between ك and ق as k versus q. In earlier works such as Hamer 1806 Ancient alphabets both were represented as "k" with a note that [q] ق is "hard". However, I see that Christian Ravis 1649 in A discourse of the orientall tongues : viz. Ebrew, Samaritan, ...


12

The answer to this question has multiple layers. Draconis has already noted that the two sounds are distinct (phonemic) in Arabic and user6726 has added that the convention of writing one using k and the other using q dates back quite a number of centuries. But why does the Latin alphabet even have this ‘spare letter’ (Draconis) q that turns out to be nigh ...


8

Neither [h] nor [k] is "accurate" as a replacement for [x]: but there are some linguistic issues related to how [x] in a source language word appears in English, when the word is borrowed. The velar fricative is not a robust phoneme of English, but it does robustly exist for some speakers who pronounce the name Bach as [bax] (etc.). Phonetically it also ...


8

In theory, yes. Tashlhiyt Berber is said to have a contrast, but that does not mean that there are any minimal pairs. That article points to literature, saying that it is generally agreed that they are different. However, the article slightly undermines the claim by noting that [kw] and [kʷ] differ in terms of syllabification: which (potentially) means that ...


8

If you are looking for a phonetic basis for thinking that you have [gw] versus [gʷ], you can listen for an effect on the preceding segment, where the end of the previous vowel is more likely to show signs of partial rounding before [gʷ], compared to if you have a sequence [gw]. I said "likely", so you can't use this as an absolute distinguishing feature. ...


6

There are many key differences between [ʷ] and [w]. The most important is that [ʷ] is a secondary articulation on another sound, meaning it is a simultaneous modification, not a separate following sound. For the difference between [k] and [kʷ] is that in one, the lips are flat, and in one, they are rounded. The difference between [k] and [kw] is that in both,...


5

I will assume that by "translate" you mean which syllables in words loaned by Japanese correspond to [x] in their source language. The answer is that words containing [x] which come directly from languages with that phoneme are sometimes rendered ッハ hha. The most common examples would be Bach バッハ Bahha and Mach マッハ Mahha. Other times, it is simply rendered ...


5

-w- can act as a vowel: *drew- > *drw- (zero grade) > *dru- etc. If kʷ was -kw- we would see kʷ "disintegrate" in certain situations into -kew-, -kow-, -ku- etc. which doesn't happen.


4

From the comments: Could a typical English speaker notice it [and] what are a few languages that do? For the first part, I would say yes from anecdotal evidence. They would probably still understand you, but it would be easily noticed. Native speakers of Spanish and Modern Greek, for example, often pronounce English /h/ as [x], and are understood just ...


4

Just because a language contrasts two sounds, doesn't mean there should be minimal pairs (cf. English /h/ and /ŋ/). The IPA uses a plain w to symbolise the [w] sound (war) and a superscript ʷ for labialisation (i.e. secondary articulation). There's a constriction at the velum for w, but ʷ doesn't have any constriction at the velum, it's simply the ...


4

Thai can be what you are looking for. It has onset clusters /kw/, /kʰw/. Quite often, they are realized as labialized velar consonants /kʷ/, /kʰʷ/. However¹, final stops like /-k/ are accompanied by a simultaneous glottal stop, thus making syllable boundaries well defined by intersyllabic juncture. This prevents any C-to-C coarticulation and ...


3

⟨ch⟩ is pronounced [x] in Polish and as many other Polish sounds, it can undergo so called "voice assimilation". Assimilation is a process during which a speech sound gets a feature from an adjacent or otherwise close speech sound. Typical example of the is the voice assimilation, causing that the voicedness of a consonant depends typically on the consonant ...


3

I'm Polish and I can assure you that nowadays "ch" and "h" are pronounced exactly the same. Only elderly people (really few), especially in Eastern Poland, still keep the sound [h]. By the way, this is one of the reasons why so many Poles struggle with spelling: they confuse "ch" with "h", the same happens with "u" and "ó" (both pronounced as [u]) or "ż" and ...


3

In Polish, most (if not all) words containing letter ⟨h⟩ are actually loanwords as there was no [h]/[ɦ] sound in Polish (as opposed to Czech, Slovak and Ukrainian, where [ɦ] evolved from Slavic [g]). As the voiced [ɦ] is a pretty rare sound, most languages including Latin used unvoiced [h], which was quite naturally adopted into Polish as [x], with which it ...


2

There is some confusion of phonetic transcription with Polish spelling here. To clear things up: The digraph "ch" and the letter "h" (when not preceded by "c") are pronounced in exactly the same way in modern standard Polish: as the voiceless velar fricative /x/. The sounds /h/ and /ɦ/ are absent in Polish. In fact, many Polish speakers can't pronounce /h/ ...


2

All these arguments are legitimate. But you could also ask whether there is any real human language (not reconstructed) that has a phonological contrast between /kʷ/ and /kw/.


2

[I don't have sufficient reputation to comment; however, since this question is subjective, I'll dare to "answer" it instead.] I prefer to use x (since it looks exactly like the Russian equivalent), but this is one of those instances where there simply isn't an English equivalent, and you go with what probably works best (which is kh or ch). h is without a ...


2

For one, I would pronounce most instances of /x/ as /k/, unless I'm really thinking about how to pronounce it, in which case I might say /x/. Most people I have heard do this, though some pronounce german ch like it is in English. This is based on American English.


2

From a diachronic perspective, this is simply retraction vs advancement. The place of articulation appears as the most "important" part of such a series, and so that's how the phenomenon is portrayed. One commonly cited dramatic example is Spanish, e.g. Latin DIXIT becoming modern Castilian Spanish dijo /'dixo/. In this case, the consonant cluster ...


1

In the third volume of his Accents of English (pp.550-1), Wells notes that, in the southern United States, dark /l/ may be realised as velar [ʟ] rather than velarised alveolar [ɫ], especially in the sequence /əl/. I've also heard anecdotal reports of dark /l/ being produced as [ʟ] by speakers from the UK but am not aware of any published work corroborating ...


1

On the theory that speakers ordinarily hear and aim to pronounce phonemes, if they can interpret the [x] as a /k/ phoneme of English which has been lenited to [x], then they will say /k/. Using @user6726's example of English "baker", where some of us customarily lenite a /k/ to [x], then an English speaker will aim to pronounce /bejkr/, and if he lenites ...


1

There are several indications this was not just combination of *k+*w. 1) Morphology: Semi-vowels were vocalised in zero grade verbs but this does not happen for *kʷ. To the contrary, there are cases where there is *ḱ followed by /w/ that can vocalise to /u/ ("dog" - a.gr.: kyón, gen.: kynos, skrt.: śván, gen. śunah) which would be fairly peculiar if it did ...


1

The aspirate [kʰ] is a pulmonic consonant and the ejective [k'] is a, well, ejective consonant. You might want to check another question here related to ejective consonants and their pronunciation. If you speak English reasonably well (i.e. as either a L1 speaker or a moderately long-time learner) you'll find that the words <skid> and <kid> are, ...


1

I feel like this is a common question people have when they first learn about the labiovelar series, but none of these answers are very satisfying. As said, if we can't find a direct difference in reflexes, then we might look for differences in behaviour: we would always expect to see *kʷ as *kʷ, but *kw would, in certain circumstances, become *ku instead. ...


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