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 Vowels and consonants in different languages

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Thu 10 Sep 2015, 21:43

As we have all kind of knowledge about language among the members in this small group of contributors...Danish, Norwegian, Greek, Arab? MadNan, one of the Indian languages Priscilla? French, German and last but not least English too...and a bit of Russian from my Russian lessons...

I was always struck by the myriad of pronunciations there were in the different dialects that I know even differences between the Dutch from the North and the Dutch from the South (spoken in the South of the Netherlands and in Belgium)...
For instance my wife's pronunciation of "groot" (great): the "oo" pronounced the same way as in the Russian "odnako" (but) and my Ostend "o" for "groot" would be more the "o" from "more"

What sparked again my attention was suddenly after all those years and an intensive exposure to the French language that I didn't saw a "w" in French Embarassed ...on the first sight I found only the French city "Longwy" and the "w" is pronounced the North Dutch and German way as "v"?

Wanted to ask it to our forum but did a quick research myself...
http://french.about.com/od/pronunciation/a/w.htm


And yes but that I already announced on the ex-BBC forum the English seem not to have an "u" pronunciation as in the German "Tür" (door) and the Dutch "buur" (neighbour)...
http://joycep.myweb.port.ac.uk/pronounce/vowelue.html
"To form a long German 'ü' vowel - which can be written 'ü', 'üh' and sometimes 'y' - first articulate a long German 'ie' sound in a word such as 'Tier' (= animal). As you say it, gradually purse your lips and the word that emerges is 'Tür' (= door)."
I tried and can still with the lips pursed say "Tier"... Wink



And then that "w" that the Northern Dutch and the Germans pronounce as "v", while we the Flemings  and the South of the Netherlands pronounce it as "w" like the English...
http://www.dutchgrammar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=866

Kind regards, Paul.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Sat 12 Sep 2015, 13:47

PaulRyckier wrote:

What sparked again my attention was suddenly after all those years and an intensive exposure to the French language that I didn't saw a "w" in French Embarassed ...on the first sight I found only the French city "Longwy" and the "w" is pronounced the North Dutch and German way as "v"?

Interesting subject Paul.

Yes, a look at my 'Robert et Collins Dictionnaire Français-Anglais', gives only a dozen or so entries under "W" in the French bit, and none of them are really French words: wagon, Walhalla, Wallon, wapiti, WC etc. But then the consonant "W" sound, as in the English "water", doesn’t really exist in French does it? As indeed neither does the vowel sound of W, the double-u, or long-u, the "ooo" sound. By contrast the very short, purse-lipped French "u" sound, doesn’t really exist in English. Accordingly, despite what language they are actually using, one can often tell anglophones from francophones by their pronunciation of common words like the French, "Marché-U" (a supermarket chain), or the English (at least in how it’s spelled), "You-tube". That’s not to say that "W", doesn’t also cause problems in the UK. In Welsh a valley is a cwm, which is basically the same as the Anglo-Saxon coombe (and meaning much the same thing), although in Welsh I’ve always understood it wasn’t pronounced quite so long, being sort of intermediate between cum and com (but we really need someone like Minette to confirm that).

And of course originally in English, U and V were represented by the same letter (originating from when spoken Old English first started to be written down using the somewhat vowel-deficient 24 letter Roman alphabet). U has since become the vowel sound and V the consonant sound but even Dr Johnston’s famous dictionary (1755) makes no distinction between words beginning with U and those beginning with V, but rather runs all the words together that we would now think of as separate and beginning with either a U or a V. At the time Us and Vs were generally used interchangeably thus writers/printers might put, "caues and cauerns", to mean what we would now write as "caves and caverns". The distinction between U and V only really comes about with moves towards standardisation of spelling at the end of the 18th century. But then the universally agreed spelling almost inevitably comes to reflect the capricious vagaries of contemporary pronunciation, rather than any academic or linguistic logic.

There are some interesting residual effects of all this. In English we still talk about cloves, whether we mean the aromatic dried flower bud of the clove tree, or the segmets or bulblets peeled off the onion-like garlic bulb (... and other than these two explicit examples I can think of no other vegetable, plant or spice which has parts commonly described as a clove). The words are however completely distinct entymologically: a garlic clove derives from an old Germanic root meaning something being cleaved (ie split/hacked) off something else. However a spicey clove (un clou de giroffle, in modern French) is from the old French, cloue, meaning a nail or pin ... which a dried clove does very closely resemble. For the spicy cloue/clove, the original U at some point become changed to a V, both in spelling and pronunciation, to become like that of a cleaved garlic clove ... I’m not sure when or why exactly the words merged, but possibly it was simply a popular misunderstanding because they were both "exotic, foreign spices".
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Sat 12 Sep 2015, 16:48

I'm not sure it was necessarily a misunderstanding: 'cloven' meaning split as in 'cloven hoofed' is a very old expression and would be familiar from the bible if nowhere else so a 'clove' of garlic as in 'that which has been cloven' might be quite logical and obvious  Referring to garlic, isn't it usual to add the modifier a clove of garlic anyway but 'a clove' always means a clove? There are so many of these homonyms in English deriving from different roots and this, I think, is just anither and the spice connection is co-incidental.
But then 'cleave' can also mean 'to join', now I'm even more confused.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Sun 13 Sep 2015, 21:26

Meles meles,

thank you very much for your interesting reply. I learned a lot about the "u" and the "v" in English.
Yes and I mentioned the Dutch "uu" and the German "ü" but as you said you have it in French too as for example in the word "unité".

And back to the French "w"...you have it in my opinion also in words with the "ou" followed by a vowel...?
For instance: "oued" (Dutch: wed, English: watering place in the desert? (it is an Arabic word)), "oui" (yes), ouaille (sheep), "ouate" (cotton wadding?)...

Thanks again for your interest in my thread, Paul.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Mon 14 Sep 2015, 10:24

Another point about v, u and w is their pronunciation in English dialect. Throughout the 19th century literary caricatures of Londoners featured characters who mix up v and w sounds. For example Dickens has Sam Weller in 'Pickwick Papers' (1836) consistently say wittles for vittals, adwice for advice, and wery well for very well .... and veskit for waistcoat, vooden leg for wooden leg. This was clearly a well-recognised and long-established trait of Londoners' speech (at least that of the more common people), as 80 years earlier the elocutionist Thomas Sheridan (father of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan) pointed it out as a typical speech "fault" in his 'Lectures on Elocution' (published 1762):
"The chief difference lies in the manner of pronouncing the ve, or the u consonant as it is commonly called, and the w; which they frequently interchangeably use for each other. Thus they call veal weal, vinegar winegar. On the other they call winter vinter, well vell."

I don't think interchanging the consonants w and v is still a feature of London Cockney, but apparently it is still common in the patois speech on some islands in the Caribbean. Doesn't it also occur on the Indian subcontinent, as in vot are you doing?

PS : Just a thought but I wonder if the London habit of mixing v and w arose in the early to mid 18th century from the succession of the Hanoverian kings, not from any direct influence of the Georges themselves but from the influx into the city of German artists, musicians, engineers, statesmen, merchants, and not the least thousands of German soldiers en route to the wars in North America, all of whom would have been used to pronouncing w as v, as in wasser (water) pronouced "vasser".


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 14 Sep 2015, 16:42; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : a PS plus some errant spelling)
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Mon 14 Sep 2015, 11:05

PaulRyckier wrote:

And back to the French "w"...you have it in my opinion also in words with the "ou" followed by a vowel...?
For instance: "oued" (Dutch: wed, English: watering place in the desert? (it is an Arabic word)), "oui" (yes), ouaille (sheep), "ouate" (cotton wadding?)...

Yes indeed and again with "oi",  ... as in oie (goose), soie (silk), loi (law), noix (walnut), noir (black), soir (evening), poire (pear), bois (wood), boîte (box) ... and pronounced respectively: wa, swa, lwa, nwa, nwar, swar, pwar, bwa, bwat.

And in French the long u, "ooo" sound, is sort of produced by "ou", if not followed by a vowel, as in ou "oo" (where);  nouveau "noovo" (new); prouver "proovay" (to prove) ... although the sound is shorter than the English "oo", though not as clipped as the pursed-lipped French "u".

PS : Ouailles ... I'd never come across that before. Four vowels together - no wonder vowels have such low values in the French version of Scrabble.


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 14 Sep 2015, 12:44; edited 1 time in total
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Mon 14 Sep 2015, 12:29

Another couple of sounds that cause no end of trouble for French speakers are those of the digraph, "th" … whether it’s the thorn sound as originally represented in Old English by the letter Þ , þ  and as still pronouced in the words: through, thought, think, and ether ... or the eth sound as originally represented in OE by the letter Р, ð and as pronounced in words like: the, thee, thou, them, although, and either. I don’t think these sounds exist in French which is presumanly why most French speakers often come out with a strangled "zhe" sound, as in for example: "ze people from souzen England zink zey speak ze best English."  Though I think that the lisped "th" sound might exist in both Breton and Norman, the local French dialects still spoken in rural Brittany and Normandy.

But a lot of native English speakers can’t get it right either. Modern speakers of so-called 'Estuary English' still often change th into either v, f or d, and so pronounce think as fink, then as den, and neither as niva. ..... But den maybe dey is just fick, or dey never really fought about it, or dey just can't be f*ckin' bovver'd eva way.


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 14 Sep 2015, 20:10; edited 1 time in total
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Mon 14 Sep 2015, 20:07

Estuary English also has other interesting constructions. Our coach driver last week said. "An' I wnats youse all back by fower." He said 'Youse' more than once on that trip.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Mon 14 Sep 2015, 20:14

And I always thought the plural of the singular, informal, second person, ie 'you' ... which logically as a plural  does indeed become 'yous', or 'youse' ... was a uniquely Northern English or Southern Scots language construction.

So it has been absorbed into Essex English now too? One indeed learns something new every day ... but I wonder how this new language construction came about.
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Mon 14 Sep 2015, 21:07

Thanks Meles meles for all your replies.
And yes the Dutch and the Germans haven't the "teeth" "th" either.
And I thought that the Americans also haven't that very pronounced "th" as in English?
And our Northern brothers have some trouble with the French "ch" in "charmant" that many pronounce as "sjarmant" (sharmant?)
and in our local dialect they say even "zarmant"...
And that with the Dutch "h"...The Northern neighbours pronounce it quite aspirated, nearly damaging their throat, while we in the South, who have as in French no "h", when we have to speak the correct Dutch, we don't make a difference between for instance "heel" (whole) and "geel" (yellow). those from the Netherlands ask then steadely, what are you saying? It is even more troublesome as with "hout" (wood) and "goud" (gold). For us Flemings of course there is no problem, while we pronounce "heel" as "eel", and "hout" as "out". Of course we have then trouble with "het out is oud" (the wood is old)...
The grand-daugther who had a diction course tried to learn me the correct "h", but said after a while that I was hopeless...
Listening yesterday to some English I think that the English "h" is also aspirated?

Kind regards from near Bruges, Paul.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Sat 19 Sep 2015, 19:52

A major reason why English vowels often have a different sound to the same letters in other European languages is because of the Great Vowel Shift, occurring between about 1400 and 1700. The main differences between pre-1400s Middle English and post-1700s Modern English are in the pronunciation of the long vowels. In Middle English these vowels were pronounced much the same as they were in the standard Italian, German and Spanish of the time (and in turn not too differently from in modern Italian, German, Spanish, etc), whereas in Modern English they are now pronounced very differently. And because spelling was gradually becoming standardised from about 1400 onwards (and then accelerated by the introduction of printing after about 1480) the Vowel Shift is also responsible for many of the peculiarities and inconsistencies of modern English spelling. Many words essentially retain a Middle English phonetic spelling but with modern English vowel prounciation such as "great" and "mine", while other words became standardised with spellings that simply reflect the original inconsistencies of Middle English spelling, such as the many pronunciations of "ough": in rough, cough, through, thought, though, plough, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Sat 19 Sep 2015, 20:24

A similar shift occurred in France, too - the rhyming of the name "Machaut" shows a distinct shift from "Mashout" through "Mashote" to "Masho" around the mid to late C14th.
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Mon 21 Sep 2015, 21:55

In the "anthem" thread I said that I found Italian and Russian more musical or fit for songs and music.
I was hesitating as it can be a personal preference. But I hit already to the clear sounds of the vowels and a bigger frequency of the vowels too.
Did some research and yes on the "net" (www) via google one find a lot of answers...
http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/italian.htm
http://www.eupedia.com/linguistics/number_of_phonemes_in_european_languages.shtml
[url=http://www.tsmp.org/choir/djones/pdf/Diction for Singing.pdf]http://www.tsmp.org/choir/djones/pdf/Diction%20for%20Singing.pdf[/url]
Don't know what happened with the last URL.
https://goo.gl/GiwjGs
Look to page 676 and the statements on the end of 677 Wink .


http://vocalcoach.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Sing-the-Five-Basic-Singing-Vowels
Is the "u" vowel as in the French "futur" then not a basic vowel? Is the "u" perhaps a kind of "ee"?
http://www.musicprodigy.com/news/five-simple-vowels-the-basis-of-all-singing


As I like the clear "o" and the clear "a" and not the "e" and as in Italian more words end on a vowel it is perhaps therefore that I like the italian opera?
It is perhaps indeed a personal appreciation?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_frequency


https://www.quora.com/Which-language-sounds-more-musical-Italian-or-Spanish
Steve Wooden wrote:

"It's a matter of opinion, of course. That said, Italian ends a lot of syllables with vowels. Its vowels are pure, unlike English, where a, e, I, and u are all diphthongs. These two factors make it easier to sing in Italian. The general culture of Italy has favored the development of opera and singing in general. Opera did not just stay in Italy, and there are many splendid operas in any number of languages.Written 19 Sep, 2014 "

Kind regards, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Tue 22 Sep 2015, 21:13

Still struggling with the question why Italian contrary to for instance English and among others East- and West-Flemish dialects sounds so clear in my ears?

Yesterday I had a hint about the diphthongs:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diphthong
Is it because in Italian the vowels in the diphthongs aren't "mingled together" as in English?

"no highway cowboys" would sound in Italian then "no-i i-awa-i co-ubo-iz"?
http://web.stanford.edu/~jrb/reference/italian.html

Sorry for my ignorance. It are my first steps on phonology...if someone more educated in that matter than me can help....Meles meles, Nordmann...?

Kind regards, Paul.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Sat 26 Sep 2015, 13:11

Paul, and indeed everyone else, I see that today (26 September) is 'European Languages Day', to "celebrate and promote language diversity throughout the European Union" ... so I guess by this thread alone we're all doing our bit, neh?

26 septembre - journée européenne des langues 

.... and of course one can read the site in any one of the 30 official languanges of the EU.
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Sat 26 Sep 2015, 21:27

I think I mentioned my faux pas  with my Spanish homework on another thread.  We had to write a Spanish recipe and I did something like figgy pudding - it had figs in it anyway. I got my Spanish j and g confused and put 'cocinar los hijos' [sons/boys] instead of 'c-------- l-- gigos' [figs].  It's a U3A  activity and I'm  supposed to be an 'improver'  not a beginner now.
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PostSubject: Re: Vowels and consonants in different languages   Sat 26 Sep 2015, 21:56

Thank you so much Meles meles for this site. And you don't believe it but when I clicked on your link I received it in Dutch. "They" even know where I live...
Hope that with time they don't will have other rules for the local approach...as now in 2017, as the "Regions" in Belgium are independent in certain matters, their will be a overall 70 Km limit on secondary roads in Flanders...and of course the Walloons have already said that they will stick to the 90 km rule with exceptions of 70 Km as it is now in Flanders too...another point that the Flemings have started to be apart from the rest of Belgium?...a new point of friction when at the Flemish "border" the Walloons will be penalized for infraction of the "Flemish rules"... pale ?

Yes thinking about it, tomorrow Catalunia votes...the Catalunian language only slightly differing from Castilian Spanish...but no it are their "national" feelings which prevail...yes all those "markers" as jingoism, religion and indeed also language which are used to drag along the stupid mass...of course it is always interesting when the "region" is better off than the rest and one can say if we are "alone" we will be even better off...and I together with the family going to the Sagrada Familia Barcelona in some weeks...

Meles meles, rant closed...

But still struggling with my "diphthongs"...Nordmann, you knowledgeable one, but I fear even you...my head is reeling from all those readings...and now one says that "diphthongs" even don't exist in French...and one has pairs of vowels, and gliders and demi-vowels and so on and so on...
http://www.tedpower.co.uk/esl0105.html
http://www.languefrancaise.net/forum/viewtopic.php?id=2134
http://www.italianlanguageguide.com/pronunciation/diphthongs.asp
http://las.sagepub.com/content/31/2/97.abstract


Kind regards, Paul.
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