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What is it with PH & F?

You have letters - now what do you do with them?

Postby tcward » Fri Feb 25, 2005 10:28 pm

I thought about the possibility of /spl/ and /spr/, but I think many -- at least here in the US -- do force some aspiration after that last consonant.

Of course, at a whisper (so as to mask your linguistic shenanigans from your co-workers), many words have unnatural aspirations...

That last thought almost has the makings of a good tagline!

-Tim :lol:
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Postby sluggo » Sat Apr 22, 2006 1:52 am

Apoclima wrote:Flam:
I hear a puff after every [p] in English. There is no unaspirated [p] in English phonology.


I believe this is technically untrue! It is true that there are no unaspirated "p's" when it is not part of a consonant cluster, but the aspiration disappears when "p" is the second member of a consonant cluster.

"spam" "speak" "Sparta" "spend"

"splash" "split" "splice" "sprite"


With all due respect: anybody who's ever done an audio recording of someone too close to the mic knows these Ps are all very much aspirated. Put a hand or piece of paper in front of your mouth when saying them; we tech types call them "P-pops". Much less so with B, the voice of P, but still technically omnipresent.

If there were no breath in it we'd be saying something like an unvoiced M.

Anyway, thus my improvised appraisal- appealing or appalling?
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Postby anders » Sat Apr 22, 2006 4:11 am

"Unaspirated after s" is not just Conventional Wisdom (TM) as taught in every textbook of phonetics for Germanic languages, but from the practical side, knowing this was a great help in mastering (to at least an acceptable degree) the difference between the aspirated and unaspirated stops in Hindi.
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Postby Perry » Sat Apr 22, 2006 4:01 pm

Garzo wrote:Yes, you are on to something.

The Greeks didn't borrow φ from the Phoenicians (even though their name then becomes difficult to spell), as it is one of the additional letters added onto the end of the alphabet derived from Phoenician. It seems that, like other NW Semitic languages, the Phoenicians had a series of lightly contrasted plosives and fricatives. It seems that voicing and place of articulation were important, but fricativisation wasn't. The Phoenician letter pé'atu was realised as both /p/ and /f/, but the Greeks used it for π (pi). Ancient Greek obviously made a distinction between /p/ and /pʰ/, and had no time for /f/. It seems that φ was not entirely made up, but that it was based on the Phoenician letter qoppu (which was koppa, Ϟ, in archaic Greek).

In English, aspiration is not phonemic. Particularly at the start of a word, /p/ is aspirated. As you point out, the p and b in pinyin are not really distinguished by voicing (as they are in English), but by aspiration.


I don't know if we would want to change the ph in Phoenician to an f. Then a Phoenician would just be foenici. Do we know them well enough to say if they had any problems with loyalty or consistency?
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Postby malachai » Sun Aug 06, 2006 12:33 am

sluggo wrote:
Apoclima wrote:Flam:
I hear a puff after every [p] in English. There is no unaspirated [p] in English phonology.


I believe this is technically untrue! It is true that there are no unaspirated "p's" when it is not part of a consonant cluster, but the aspiration disappears when "p" is the second member of a consonant cluster.

"spam" "speak" "Sparta" "spend"

"splash" "split" "splice" "sprite"


With all due respect: anybody who's ever done an audio recording of someone too close to the mic knows these Ps are all very much aspirated. Put a hand or piece of paper in front of your mouth when saying them; we tech types call them "P-pops". Much less so with B, the voice of P, but still technically omnipresent.


I'm not sure that what you call P-pops is the same as aspiration.

Aspiration is a delay in the onset of voicing. That is, the delay between the release of the consonant and the start of the vocal cords vibrating. In English, word-initial /p/ has a much greater aspiration than Word-initial /sp/. I have seen spectrograms. It's pretty clear. So whatever you're experiencing with the microphone is something else.
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Postby sluggo » Sun Aug 06, 2006 2:53 am

malachai wrote:
sluggo wrote:
Apoclima wrote:Flam:
I hear a puff after every [p] in English. There is no unaspirated [p] in English phonology.


I believe this is technically untrue! It is true that there are no unaspirated "p's" when it is not part of a consonant cluster, but the aspiration disappears when "p" is the second member of a consonant cluster.

"spam" "speak" "Sparta" "spend"

"splash" "split" "splice" "sprite"


With all due respect: anybody who's ever done an audio recording of someone too close to the mic knows these Ps are all very much aspirated. Put a hand or piece of paper in front of your mouth when saying them; we tech types call them "P-pops". Much less so with B, the voice of P, but still technically omnipresent.


I'm not sure that what you call P-pops is the same as aspiration.

Aspiration is a delay in the onset of voicing. That is, the delay between the release of the consonant and the start of the vocal cords vibrating. In English, word-initial /p/ has a much greater aspiration than Word-initial /sp/. I have seen spectrograms. It's pretty clear. So whatever you're experiencing with the microphone is something else.


I aspire to differ :wink: .
To clarify, I don't suggest they're the same thing- rather, my crude example of p-pops are the result of aspiration that prove the existence thereof. Aural ballistics if you like. Proof provided by the power of P.

Trust me, I see literally hundreds of spectrograms in a typical day's work, I tweak them to the tiniest detail, and as a result I know too well :roll: what the sound of P looks like both popped and passive. Whether it's an intitial or internal P (or SP), when the speaker is too close, the force of the breath hitting the mic is beyond overpowering, even if one letter may be more so than the other. It's not that the speaker is talking any differently on that occasion, it's just that the mic has been placed in a position to overreact to the same breath that is always there.

When a speaker is properly placed, you don't get a defect called a "p-pop" but I could still cut all the Ps out of this spoken paragraph and burn them down to a 10-second CD with a nice flowery label and credits. You won't hear any voicing at all, just pure breath with a rather sharp attack. I can give you the SPs with or without the Ss, but it's not great to dance to unless we space them just so, and that costs extra :). A LOT extra...

A standard French speaker may wield a "nearly"-unaspirated P but it still all counts as aspiration, regardless of the degree thereof, if we peruse, e.g. Merriam-Webster: audible breath that accompanies or comprises a speech sound -not any delay in the voicing or lack thereof. Without some aspiration, the plosive would in fact disappear, since aspiration is all they're made of, and which I think is why they are called plosives. (try to say "disappear" without aspiration and you get, at best, "disabbear")

One cannot say "peanut butter" without blowing out ("aspirating") as the first event of each word (it would come out "eanut utter") ...unless you deliberately inhale while doing so, technically possible but unnatural and impractical (and even then it's just reverse-aspiration). Plus, you could hyperventilate, or put an eye out, for which we would all probably be poorer.
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Postby malachai » Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:51 am

A standard French speaker may wield a "nearly"-unaspirated P but it still all counts as aspiration, regardless of the degree thereof, if we peruse, e.g. Merriam-Webster: audible breath that accompanies or comprises a speech sound -not any delay in the voicing or lack thereof. Without some aspiration, the plosive would in fact disappear, since aspiration is all they're made of, and which I think is why they are called plosives. (try to say "disappear" without aspiration and you get, at best, "disabbear")


/b/ is a plosive too. And in English it often is aspirated - that is, there is a very short delay after the release of the /b/ and the onset of voicing.

But I'll take your word for it that the slight aspiration after /sp/ does cause your mic problems.[/quote]
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Postby malachai » Sun Aug 06, 2006 12:19 pm

audible breath that accompanies or comprises a speech sound


That is not the definition of aspiration I am familiar with. "Audible breath that accompanis or comprises a speech sound" - by that definition all speech sounds are aspirated. My definition, which is the standard linguistic definition, is more useful, I think. :D
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Postby sluggo » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:09 pm

malachai wrote:
audible breath that accompanies or comprises a speech sound


That is not the definition of aspiration I am familiar with. "Audible breath that accompanis or comprises a speech sound" - by that definition all speech sounds are aspirated. My definition, which is the standard linguistic definition, is more useful, I think. :D


OK I'm flummoxed :?: I'm unfamiliar with what aspiration has to do with a delay (space?) between other sounds. Got a link?
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Postby malachai » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:23 pm

hmm... all the links I found say "aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some stop consonants." That's a better definition than "Audible breath that accompanis or comprises a speech sound".

When I studied phonetics, I learned that aspiration was a delay in the onset of voicing. However, as this link notes, not all aspiration is followed by voicing.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspiration_(phonetics)

So perhaps "strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some stop consonants" is a better definition.

As for the delay in the onset of voicing, I'm referring to voice onset time

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_onset_time

on a spectrogram, the voice onset time is the time between the release of the plosive and the start of voicing. In English intial /p/ and /b/, there is a measurable voice onset time. In other languages, the voice onset time might be negative - that is, voicing starts before the release of the plosive.
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Postby sluggo » Sun Aug 06, 2006 7:41 pm

malachai wrote:
/b/ is a plosive too. And in English it often is aspirated - that is, there is a very short delay after the release of the /b/ and the onset of voicing.

But I'll take your word for it that the slight aspiration after /sp/ does cause your mic problems.


The mic is irrelevant. It's an instrument to demonstrate the presence of aspiration, that's it. Delay does not enter into it, as your own link concedes.

Sheesh, this is like pulling teeth...

Anyway, the question upthread was about the letter P, and we never stray off-topic on this board :wink: "Disammear" might have been a better example.
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:06 pm

Delay does enter into it, because aspiration is expressed in duration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspiration_%28phonetics%29
"There are degrees of aspiration. Armenian and Cantonese have aspiration that lasts about as long as English aspirated stops, as well as unaspirated stops like Spanish. Korean has lightly aspirated stops that fall between the Armenian and Cantonese unaspirated and aspirated stops, as well as strongly aspirated stops whose aspiration lasts longer than that of Armenian or Cantonese."

A strongly aspirated plosive means that the duration of the aspiration is longer than in a lightly aspirated plosive.
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Postby sluggo » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:04 pm

malachai wrote:Delay does enter into it, because aspiration is expressed in duration.

etc etc etc


<sigh> I fear this entire exchange has devolved into an old Monty Python sketch. The subject was not duration of aspiration but rather the question of its existence. Even that was a tangent of the evolution of ph/f. This has become an apples and oranges debate so I'm staying appular. I can't play baseball in a hockey rink.
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Postby skinem » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:07 pm


<sigh> I fear this entire exchange has devolved into an old Monty Python sketch.


I believe, specifically, "The Argument Clinic".
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Postby malachai » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:16 pm

sluggo wrote:
malachai wrote:Delay does enter into it, because aspiration is expressed in duration.

etc etc etc


<sigh> I fear this entire exchange has devolved into an old Monty Python sketch. The subject was not duration of aspiration but rather the question of its existence. Even that was a tangent of the evolution of ph/f. This has become an apples and oranges debate so I'm staying appular. I can't play baseball in a hockey rink.


Sorry dude. I really don't mean to argue just for the sake of arguing.

The thing is that it's not clear to me that you understand what I'm saying. This might be my problem. You said that from your perspective as a sound technician, /sp/ was aspirated. That's fine. However from a linguistic perspective, /sp/ is not aspirated. That's all I'm trying to say.
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