Talk:Sotho phonology

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Untitled[edit]

I juggled the main consonant table a bit to merge all allophonic sounds into single cells. To do so required clumping the affricates and the fricativs under the rarely-seen umbrella term "fricate", but the [kxh] / [x] and [dZ] / [Z] variations would seem to suggest that there indeed is no affricate / fricativ distinction in Sesotho, independant of phonation contrasts at least. Someone will need to edit the phoneme descriptions, too, to reflect this. More information on the conditions of the allophony of /Z/ and /h/ would also be needed.

& on another note, is the <r> a trill (as listed in the approximant subsection) or a fricativ (as listed in the main table)? --Tropylium 20:55, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for your edit, but it looks bad on so many points...

  1. Are you suggesting that Sesotho doesn't distinguish between fricatives and africates? Then how do you explain S, tS', and tSh; hl, tl', and tlh; as well as s, ts', and tsh? Besides, dZ and Z and x and kxh are not allophones; they're alternative pronunciations in free variation (like teip and tip for English "tape").
  2. B is not an allophone of b, it's just that it may sometimes sound like that to the untrained ear due to being fully-voiced.
  3. I really don't think that the table format has any limitations. Note that due to technical constraints I cannot see the table correctly so I can't say for sure.

Could you revert yourself or at least discuss your changes here? Tebello TheWHAT!!?? 09:39, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

  1. As far as the fric/affric distinction goes: there are no plain unvoiced affricates, nor ejectiv / aspirated fricativs. This is what I meant by "independant of phonation contrasts". I don't suppose that experts would necessarily agree on this analysis, however; this only arose as a solution in joining all phonemes in a single cell. Also, free variation can be allophonic; indeed, if no dialect contrasts [dZ Z] or [kxh x], they must be analyzed as single phonemes if we wish to treat Sesotho as a whole. And I do insist that it would be better to cover each phoneme in a single place in the article, rather than split allophones that differ by MOA into distinct sections. Remember that something like [x] is not a "single" sound any more than [kxh ~ x]; the IPA symbols merely mark areas of "soundspace" commonly considered unitary.
  2. OK, so I misinterpreted the note then. I do wonder how can it "sound like" [B] without actually being it, however. [Bb]? [bB]? [b_w]? "Sounding like" has to be caused by some articulatory gesture, it's not something that just drops in out of the blue. Or are there maybe neighboring languages that lack [b] but do have /B/ ??
  3. A table is limited to being 2D. It is impossible to have the voiced stop ro adjacent to all three of the voiced frics, approximants, and other stops. If the previous issue turns out to be a red herring, this'll be solved, however.
--Tropylium 17:36, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
The plositve/fricative thing with /b/ is confusing and a red herring. I've removed it.
The merging of cells to indicate allophony or free variation can only go so far. For instance, if [ŋ] were an allophone of /n/, then it would be too much to move the velar column just so you could merge the cells. That goes contrary to the normal practice of having the columns in a certain order. Attempting to make one d~l cell (even without the frication of /b/) is too much.
Likewise, it is quite a stretch having a class called "fricate" (which as far as I can tell is an older term synonymous with fricative) simply because there are two sounds that have a degree of allophony between affrication and simple frication.
However, the table's default is to represent phonemes and the indication allophones or phones in free variation is important. The de-affrication of [kxʰ] and [dʒ] are easy enough to represent; the latter because by putting them in one cell there is a whole row that can be removed and the former because by removing that one cell the two rows (aspirated affricate and voiceless fricative) are now adjacent. The glottal fricatives are adjacent and also can be merged to one cell easily.
However, that we are discussing a group of dialects makes this more justifiable. If it were one dialect, I'd recommend picking a symbol and going with it. I've edited the table as I explained above but there should be notes regarding the three cells in question so that the reader understands the situation.
BTW, I had been meaning to ask about the rhotic phoneme and it's good that Tropylium brought it up. It's a fricative on the table but only because it's describe as such below. The examples table has it as the not-upside-down-capital-R, which is a trill. Which is it? Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 18:40, 10 June 2007 (UTC

Sorry for taking so long to respond.

I've properly looked at the table now and it looks good. I don't think it's necessary though to remove the other table.

The "b" SOUNDS like "B" because to an English speaker, whose "b" is delayed voiced (it sounds like it's pre-nasalised but with an unvoiced nasal) the full voicing sounds like there might have been no contact between the lips -- but removing it was an excellent idea.

D & M describes the "r" as a "rolled" "Parisian" "trill". Due to the uvular nature it, just like the famous French cosonant, is rather unstable and pops up all over the place (just listen to my recordings) but it certainly (subjectively) sounds different from the "r" used by most other South African language groups.

The affricate variations are not dialectical -- it's just that different people speak differently. For example, some people use LBD (see Sesotho tonology) and some others don't -- even within single families -- we can't exactly say that members of the same family speak different dialects, now can we? There seems to be an incomplete chain shift from x - kxh (as in Setswana and Northern Sotho) to h - x. So the variation with the last consonant happens because different communities have adopted the x in place of kxh at different rates.

Thanks a lot for your help guys, and I'm sorry that I took so long to respond (blowing my mother's mid-year bonus is a full-time job...). Tebello TheWHAT!!?? 10:46, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

radical click?[edit]

One of the clicks was described as "radical", which I changed to "tenuis" based on the transcription. However, a note said the accompaniment should be ejective. It's not clear what that is supposed to mean: Is the click simply glottalized? A lingual-glottal airstream contour? A consonant cluster? Please correct if need be. kwami (talk) 15:59, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Clicks are a confusing bunch.
The radical click I described has an elective k accompaniment. Every language with clicks has at least an elective velar k accompaniment for the simplest clicks, and thus this is usually not written in the transcription and is usually not even noted. The phonological notation only aims to show distinguishing features, thus, when talking about Bantu languages, the elective k is not shown (though in Khoisan languages it would be noted to, for example, distinguish it from the elective uvular q accompaniment).
Thus in isiXhosa one finds !, !g, !h, !n, n!, and n!g, where the letter after the ! shows the accompaniment, and it can be assumed that the accompaniments for the first, third, and fifth clicks (radical, aspirated, and prenasalised radical) are k', kh, and k' respectively.
Tebello TheWHAT!!?? 10:36, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
Ah, "eLective"! I misread it as "eJective". kwami (talk) 08:36, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

Oops. I posted that on my phone, like I am now, and to type "ejective" I need to press 35328483, which are the same keys one presses when writing "elective". I meant ejective (glotal), not elective. Tebello TheWHAT!!?? 15:16, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

stress marks[edit]

It would seem that stress marks have been substituted for tone marks. Is primary stress supposed to be high tone, and secondary stress low tone? What does it mean when both precede a syllable, as in [buˌˈikʼɑʀɑbɛlɔ]? We should convert to normal IPA. kwami (talk) 08:36, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

There should be no tone marks in the IPA I put in, unless clearly noted. "Stress" (rather, penultimate lengthening) does not affect tone (but it obviously does affect absolute pitch), and in Sesotho the two do not interact AT ALL.
I can't read your example on my phone, but I can make a few assumptions. I indicated neither stress (not necessary) nor tone (too much work) in the transcriptions. Any mark that looks a little like an apostrophe ' MAY (I can't quite remember whether I did this) indicate syllable boundaries when one of the syllables is a vowel -- Sesotho has no diphthongs. Thus the 3 syllable word for "proverbs" is transcribed [ma'ele], to show the syllable boundary. The sign is a bit redundant, I guess, but I used it almost like the symbol for a glottal stop (in Sesotho the glottal stop is not recognised as a seperate phoneme).
Additionally, I used another symbol to indicate the ejective nature of the simple plosives. So the word for "augmentation" would be transcribed something like [k'ek'ts'o]. If I DID indicate both the syllable boundaries and ejective nature, then I'm sure I used two different symbols that look like apostrophes.
Tebello TheWHAT!!?? 15:34, 31 August 2009 (UTC)
I saw your changes. I used the apostrophe to indicate syllable boundaries when one of the syllables is a vowel.
Additionally, the exact transcription you used for the clicks is overkill, as clicks are almost written that way in Bantu linguistics. Clicks are so complex that the IPA is usually simplified only to show important contrasts. For example, since all Bantu clicks have a velar accompaniment, the k and kh are usually not written.
But my biggest concern is that if you only change one article then my meticulously inserted IPA transcriptions will be inconsistent. If we do agree to change the transcriptions then I ask that you please change them in all articles carefully. That might require some regexes for the radical click.
Tebello TheWHAT!!?? 15:46, 31 August 2009 (UTC)