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Hard and soft letters.

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gerontius grumpus
76300.  Thu Jun 22, 2006 7:08 pm Reply with quote

Usually quite self explanatory.

Soft C sounds like an S, hard C sounds like a K, easy peasy.

Welsh F is hard, Welsh FF is soft no problem.

The trouble comes when we get to TH, in 'this' you might expect it to be hard and in 'thin' you might expect it to be soft but,horror of horrors, it's the other way round.
My daughter tells me that in 'thin it's dental and therefore hard and in 'this' it's palatal and therefore soft.

So why does the soft one sound hard and the hard one sound soft?

 
Lumpo31
76307.  Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:08 pm Reply with quote

Ah now, just thinking about this after posting my bit about swear words. Could it be the pronunciation is based upon the origin of the word? The "th" words that are soft may come to us from French, for example, whereas the hard ones are English in origin?

Just a thought.

Lisa

 
suze
76350.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:11 am Reply with quote

Oh dear, a post about articulatory phonetics. It's always a bit worrying when a post appears to which one is just meant to know the answer!

The terms "hard" and "soft" consonants don't really mean anything in English. For sure, one might perceive /s/ as a softer sound than /k/, but in fact the two sounds are unrelated - except that in English the letter "c" can represent either of them. /s/ is an alveolar sound (the tongue touches the alveolar ridge - the hard bit behind the top teeth) while /k/ is velar (the back of the tongue touches the soft palate or velum).

/f/ and /v/ are related - they are produced with the organs of speech in the same positions, and the only difference is that /v/ is voiced (the vocal folds vibrate) while /f/ isn't. These sounds are labiodental - the teeth touch the bottom lip.

// (the "th" sound in "this") and /θ/ (the "th" sound in "thing") are related in the same way - // is voiced and /θ/ isn't. These sounds are often claimed in the literature to be dental - tongue immediately behind the top teeth - but in fact most English speakers produce them with the tongue between the two sets of teeth, which is called interdental.

English doesn't have any true palatal sounds - sounds where the tongue touches the hard palate - but it has a "palatal approximant" i.e. a sound where the tongue is close to the hard palate. In phonetics we denote this sound /j/, which is its spelling in a number of European languages, but in English it is usually spelled "y". Speakers of Spanish do in fact make this sound palatally.

In the Slavic languages, the terms "hard" and "soft" are used of consonants. In those languages, consonants come in pairs whereby one (hard) is pronounced in the usual way and the other (soft) is accompanied by palatalisation. It's a slight simplification, but essentially the effect is that the sound is accompanied by a simultaneous "y" sound.

The easiest example for English speakers is probably the sound of the letter "n". The basic /n/ sound is hard while the palatalised version - the sound which the Spanish represent with "" - is soft. [I can't show the phonetic symbol here, as it requires a character that isn't in standard fonts.] In the Slavic languages, it is common for two words to be different only in that in one the final consonant is palatalised and in the other it is not.

Just quickly on Lisa Lumpo's point, I don't think so. The Romance languages (other than Spanish) don't have // or /θ/, and most of our words containing them are of Germanic origin. Spanish has /θ/ aplenty, but it's said - how true it is who can say - that it only came into use because a mediaeval Spanish king had a lisp, and no-one dared speak differently from him!

 
QI Individual
76353.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:43 am Reply with quote

Suze made me curious about which characters can be shown on this website so I posted this test.

Quote:


Some extra characters for IPA

Vowels:

ʌ ɜ ɔ ә ʊ

Consonants:

ʃ ʌ ʊ ɛ ŋ θ ʒ ɒ ɔ

Test of supported characters:

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
ƁƂƋƄƆƇƊƎƏƐƑǤƓĦƗƖƘŁƜƝŊʘƟ
ƠƢƤǷƦƧƩŦƬƮƯƱƲƳƔƵȤƷƸȜƼȢǶOE
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
ɐɑɒƀɓƃƌƅʙƈɕɔʗɗđɖɘǝɚɛɜɝʚɞǥɠɡʛɢ
ħɦɧɥʜɩɪıʝɨɟʄĸƙʞłƚɫɬɭʟɰɱɯɲɳƞŋɴ
ɵơƣɸƥƿʠʀʁɹɻɺɼɽʅɾɿʃʂʆƨƪŧſƭʈƫʇʉưʊʋɷ
ʌʍʬʎƴɣɤʏƛƶʐʑȥʒʓƹƺȝƻƽȣʔʕʖʡʢƾǀǂǁǃʭ
ʣʤʥʩƕʪʫɮoeɶʦʧʨfffiflffiffl
IJijLJLjljNJNjnjDZDŽDzDždzdž
ĒĔĖĘĚȄȨȆḔḖḘḚḜẸẺẼỀẾỂỄỆ
ěēĕėęěȅȩȇḕḕḗḗḙḛḝẹẻẽềếểễềếểễ
o̊őo̍o̖o̗o̘o̙o̜o̹o̝o̞o̟o̠ọo̤o̥o̦o̧ǫo̩o̪o̫o̬o̭o̮o̯o̰o̱o̼ȏo̒o̓
.:?!*&/(‖)[]{|}\@;,
$₡₢₣₤#01234567891⁄41⁄23⁄4%₦₧₨₭₮₯
ẑǯǽǿoò ó ô õ ŏ ȯ ö ǒ ò Ά ΒΓΔΕΖΗΘΙΚΛΜΝΞΟΠΡΣΤΥΦΧΨΩαβϐγδεζη
θϑικλμνξοπρστυφϕχψωςΆΈΉΊΌΎΏΪΫϒϓϔ ϊϋ 13
άέήίόύώΐΰἈἉἊἋἍἎἏἨἩἪἫἬἭἮἯὨὩὪὫὬ
ὭὮὯἘἙἚἛἜἝἸἹἺἻἼἽἾἿὈὉὊὋὌὍὙὛὝᾼᾈᾉᾊᾋᾌᾍ

ΑΒΓΔΕΖΗΘΙΚΛΜΝΞΟΠΡΣΤΥΦΧΨΩ
αβϐγδεζηθϑικλμνξοπρστυφϕχψως
Ά Έ Ή Ί Ό Ύ Ώ ά έ ή ί ό ύ ώ ϊ ϋ ΐ ΰ Ϊ Ϋ ϒ ϓ ϔ
Ἀ Ἁ Ἂ Ἃ Ἅ Ἆ Ἇ Ἠ Ἡ Ἢ Ἣ Ἤ Ἥ Ἦ Ἧ Ὠ Ὡ Ὢ Ὣ Ὤ Ὥ Ὦ Ὧ
Ἐ Ἑ Ἒ Ἓ Ἔ Ἕ Ἰ Ἱ Ἲ Ἳ Ἴ Ἵ Ἶ Ἷ Ὀ Ὁ Ὂ Ὃ Ὄ Ὅ Ὑ Ὓ Ὕ
Ᾰ Ᾱ Ὰ Ά Ὲ Έ Ὴ Ή Ῐ Ῑ Ὶ Ί Ῠ Ῡ Ὺ Ύ Ῥ Ὸ Ό Ὼ Ώ
ἀ ἁ ἂ ἃ ἄ ἅ ἆ ἇ ἆ ἇ ᾳ ᾀ ᾁ ᾂ ᾃ ᾄ ᾅ ᾆ ᾇ ᾆ ᾇ ᾲ ᾴ ᾷ ᾷ ὰ ά ᾶ ᾶ ᾰ ᾱ
ἠ ἡ ἢ ἣ ἤ ἥ ἦ ἧ ἦ ἧ ῃ ᾐ ᾑ ᾒ ᾓ ᾔ ᾕ ᾖ ᾗ ᾖ ᾗ ῂ ῄ ῇ ῇ ὴ ή ῆ ῆ
ὠ ὡ ὢ ὣ ὤ ὥ ὦ ὧ ὦ ὧ ῳ ᾠ ᾡ ᾢ ᾣ ᾤ ᾥ ᾦ ᾧ ᾦ ᾧ ῲ ῴ ῷ ῷ ὼ ώ ῶ ῶ
ἐ ἑ ἒ ἓ ἔ ἕ ὲ έ ἰ ἱ ἲ ἳ ἴ ἵ ἶ ἷ ἶ ἷ ὶ ί ῐ ῑ ῒ ΐ ῖ ῗ ῖ ῗ ῤ ῥ
ὀ ὁ ὂ ὃ ὄ ὅ ὸ ό ὐ ὑ ὒ ὓ ὔ ὕ ὖ ὗ ὖ ὗ ὺ ύ ῠ ῡ ῢ ΰ ῦ ῧ ῦ ῧ


All these characters show up correctly on my computer. I was wondering whether it is the same for all/most of us.

 
samivel
76375.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 8:57 am Reply with quote

Some of them work for me, but there are a lot of square boxes.

 
suze
76378.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:01 am Reply with quote

I've tried it on all five computers in the house (my desktop, my laptop, the two that Andy has - one Windows and one Linux, and my stepdaughter's).

It displays properly under Windows XP (if configured correctly) but not under Windows 98 - a lot of the symbols turn into ?s - unsurprising, since 98 just doesn't support Unicode properly. All our computers use Firefox, but I believe that there is an issue with some versions of Internet Explorer as well.

As for Linux, well it works under SuSE 10 with the KDE interface, but Andy is less sure it would work with Gnome. (That sentence will make sense to a few. And yes, he did choose his version of Linux for a silly sentimental reason. How sweet ...)

Since the vast majority of people who come here will be using either Windows 98 or Windows XP, I reckon it's best to stick to characters that work under 98. The extended Times Roman font works and pretty much everyone has it, so I stick to that whenever I use special characters.

 
Tas
76385.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:07 am Reply with quote

Quote:
/s/ is an alveolar sound (the tongue touches the alveolar ridge - the hard bit behind the top teeth)


Please, Miss. When I make and 's' sound, my tongue is not up against the alveolar ridge, as the sound 'hisses' out from between my teeth. Or am I misunderstanding your post? (Which is a distinct possibility, given my generally limited understanding.)

:-)

Tas

 
Southpaw
76386.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:14 am Reply with quote

Yes, but your tongue moves up towards the roof of your mouth in order to compress the air. Do it slowly and you'll see. Otherwise you're a freak.

 
suze
76390.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:24 am Reply with quote

I bet it is!

There is more than one way to produce the /s/ sound. Some people bring the front of the tongue (which means the bit just behind the tip - hence not actually the front) up to the alveolar ridge. I do this.

Some other people make this sound primarily by placing the sides of the tongue against the pre-molar teeth - which I suspect is what you do. But even so, some part of the tongue will be in contact with the roof of the mouth - if you depress your tongue to stop this happening, it won't be a normal /s/ sound that comes out but something more like a /θ/.

 
Tas
76391.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:25 am Reply with quote

Quote:
/s/ is an alveolar sound (the tongue touches the alveolar ridge - the hard bit behind the top teeth)


Please, Miss. When I make and 's' sound, my tongue is not up against the alveolar ridge, as the sound 'hisses' out from between my teeth. Or am I misunderstanding your post? (Which is a distinct possibility, given my generally limited understanding.)

:-)

Tas

 
suze
76392.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:27 am Reply with quote

Ooh, an echo ...

 
Tas
76400.  Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:01 am Reply with quote

Gawd knows what happened there. When I make an 's', my tongue goes kind of uppish, but not all the way.

I knew it. I am a freak.

:-)

Tas

 
suze
77310.  Wed Jun 28, 2006 6:43 pm Reply with quote

QI Individual wrote:
Suze made me curious about which characters can be shown on this website so I posted this test.

[Loads and loads of weird and wonderful characters]




As I reported earlier, some of our computers displayed all the characters and some didn't. I was happy enough with that, since the two computers which I use for the sort of work where I am liable to need special characters were fine. But Andy, being Andy, needed to resolve the situation on the other computers.

I can therefore reveal that a font named Code 2000 enables them all to be viewed correctly, even under Windows 98. It also adds support for every language in the world with 3 million or more speakers with the exception of Kannada, Oriya, Telugu, Tibetan and Sinhala (the Arabic is a bit ugly, but Arabic is in the extended Times Roman font which everyone has anyway). Quite a few others are there too, including Cherokee and Inuktitut (Yes OK, so I already had a North American font and no-one else here is ever likely to need one.)

Fuorc (runic script) is also supported, and anyone who actually needs to type in runes will likely be pleased that Tengwar is there as well - which even Arial Unicode doesn't have. (Tengwar? It's the script for Tolkienian Elvish of course!) Yes, and plqaD (the "traditional" Klingon script, although most Klingons these days use the Roman alphabet).

Very few of you guys actually need a font such as this, but I'm sure one or two of you will just want one. Google is your friend in this case (not actually free - you are supposed to send the guy $5, but there is no nag screen, trial period expiration, or anything like that).

Oh and this is not an advert, before anyone says it is. Just a public service announcement!

 
Celebaelin
77315.  Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:07 pm Reply with quote

I've tried (Corellon knows I've tried) to download a Tengwar font so please tell me how I go about that. Please please please please please please. Or I'll cry.

<E> Misspelled Corellon!


Last edited by Celebaelin on Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:21 am; edited 1 time in total

 
captainzlog
77316.  Wed Jun 28, 2006 8:12 pm Reply with quote

You do need to be careful with Win 98 and Unicode fonts (especially Arial), as there can be unpleasant side effects in some applications (Internet Exploder being one). If you install any Unicode fonts and then find applications displaying fonts peculiarly - like everything being italicised when it shouldn't be, for example, then delete the Unicode fonts.

Different systems' abilities to display fonts on a web page depend on loads of factors - from the charset declaration within the page ('charset=iso-8859-1' in this one), the browser and whether it lets you override the charset declaration, the default language the system is configured to use, the installed fonts and whether they are ASCII or Unicode versions thereof, etc etc etc. Absolute minefield if you are a web designer trying to produce a site that needs special characters like phonetics or formulae or whatever, or producing a multilingual site needing multiple alphabets.

And that's without considering different keyboard layouts/mappings and currency symbols like (GBP) or (Euro). Do you know how to get a Euro symbol out of your keyboard?

 

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