Talk:Tlingit alphabet

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I would like to add some real examples of the Tlingit-Cyrillic alphabet, but this requires a bit of study. It's not very precise and thus anything written down in it needs to be puzzled out into a complete version. This requires a native speaker to judge the result, as well as a lot of time. So it'll have to wait until I have a native speaker and some extra time handy, neither of which will be happening soon.

As for discussion of the various orthographies and their histories, as well as running text examples in each, I'll add those in Real Soon NowTM, whenever I get tired of working on the grammar article. — Jéioosh 05:42, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

My edit[edit]

Yesterday I made the IPA in the comparison table visible to imperfect browsers (by adding the IPA template). While I was at it, I wrote the plain stops as voiceless lenes instead of as fortes (see Fortis and lenis) because the description of their pronunciation (and the widespread occurrence of voiceless lenes in North America...) suggest so. I may have been a bit overzealous, however: I wrote /dz/ as entirely voiceless (as it is in Navajo, while the /dz/ of Mandarin and Tsimshian (mp3 files), two other languages with voiceless lenes and without plain fortes, the [d] part is voiceless but the [z] part is voiced! I would appreciate if someone who has actually heard the language would confirm or edit this.

(I'm so picky about this whole issue because in my mother tongue, southeastern German, this contrast is phonemic – the two series of stops, /p t k b d g/, are not distinguished by any additional features such as voicing or aspiration. The same holds for /s z/, assuming these are indeed different phonemes.)

David Marjanović | david.marjanovic_at_gmx.at | 23:26 CET | 2006/3/12

As far as I can tell, the <d> in <dz> is the same as the ordinary <d>, i.e. it is not voiced and not aspirated. There is nowhere in Tlingit an actual /z/ whether it is voiced or not, this is shown by the lack of this symbol in the orthographies. Tlingit formally does not have voiced consonants, and as such the distinction between voiced and devoiced is nonphonemic. Phonemically the distinction is not between fortis and lenis, it is between aspiration or its lack. The sound <d> is truly a /t/ with no aspiration.
The orthography confuses this distinction. Word finally, /t/ is written as <t> (i.e. the phoneme /tʰ/), inconsistent with the actual sound. — Jéioosh 00:40, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your prompt response! :-)
I know Tlingit lacks voiced stops or fricatives. Mandarin likewise doesn't have any voiced stops or fricatives (...except the very peculiar retroflex approximant-fricative combination <r>), but in spite of this the affricates <z>, <j> and <zh> are only initially devoiced. (In the Pinyin transcription <z> is used for /dz/ because there is no /z/.) So, in principle, this kind of asymmetry is possible.
(Of course I'll leave it voiceless if you say it's voiceless, as you have just done!)
A voiceless [d] is not the same as an unaspirated [t]. There's still a small difference in intensity and usually length; and in southeastern German this little difference alone is phonemic (neither aspirated nor voiced stops, affricates or fricatives other than [v] exist phonemically or allophonically). This is why I'm picky about this. I know this distinction is not phonemic in Tlingit -- I just think the most common (or only) allophone should be used to explain a phonemic orthography, so that Wikipedia readers will understand the differences between different languages.
David Marjanović | david.marjanovic_at_gmx.at | 23:47 CET | 2006/3/13
There used to be somewhere online a collection of gospel recordings in Tlingit. They were akin to some available in Haida and Tsimshian. Unfortunately a cursory web search didn't turn them up, however I'm sure they're still out there somewhere. I recommend you hunt for them and give them a listen, or perhaps listen to some other Tlingit materials like the CDs accompanying "Beginning Tlingit" or the short phrase recordings on the Sealaska Heritage Institute's website. Since you have a better ear for these phonemes you would be able to answer the question more reliably. I would take samples to some of my phonologists, but frankly I don't think they have any better ears than I do for these sounds. — Jéioosh 18:54, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
Thank you very much! I have found this site... and basically... of the two speakers, one prefers lenes, but the other makes quite strong fortes most of the time. Accordingly, I'll keep it simple and change the table back to fortes again and apologize for the unnecessary confusion.
In Cusco Quechua, which has the same plain/aspirated/ejective contrast as Tlingit, /k/ is a fortis, too (even though /p t q/ are not).
I'm looking forward to examples of the Cyrillic alphabet! :-)
David Marjanović | david.marjanovic_at_gmx.at | 22:30 CET | 2006/3/16