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Another message from Maltz...

Subject:Re: Detail of Textbook
From:Marc Okrand <okrand@*****.***>
Date:Tue, 20 Sep 2016 21:46:52 -0400
To:Klingonischkurs Saarbrücken

Lieven ‐

{H} is supposed to be velar [x].

I'm sorry I didn't notice that you had IPA [χ] for that. When I was going through the book for you, I was mainly looking at the English text and pretty much skipped over everything else.

Your description of {gh} is correct: "Almost the same as H but voiced." {H} is a voiceless velar fricative; {gh} is a voiced velar fricative. You're also right that {H} is "very strong."

({q} is a uvular stop; {Q} is a uvular affricate. There is no velar stop or uvular fricative.)

Since the {H} sound does not occur in English (and since I don't use IPA in TKD), I was looking for a way to describe the sound that would help English speakers get it right or nearly right. I came up with the example words Bach, l'chaim (Yiddish), and Tijuana and Baja (Spanish), hoping readers would have heard these words pronounced in the language the words were from or something close to that (as opposed to Anglicized [bɑk], [tijəwɑnə], [bɑhɑ], for example). Technically, I suppose, these were not great examples because, in any given language, there are different ways to pronounce this sound (actually, I should say "phoneme" rather than "sound"). In Spanish, for instance, the sound written with a {j}, that I wanted to liken to a Klingon {H}, is sometimes velar, sometimes more palatal, and sometimes more uvular, depending on dialect, surrounding vowels, etc. As I understand it, in German (or at least in some dialects of German), the sound written {ch} may be [ç] (a palatal fricative), [χ], or [x], depending on where it falls in the word and/or the preceding vowel. So it's understandable that there may be disagreement about what {H} is supposed to be. As I say, the idea was to get English speakers to get it more or less right from a written, nontechnical description. (Also, as I think I've mentioned in the past, one of the things I was thinking about when writing TKD was making it, sometimes, a parody of those language books that have only suggestions of pronunciations and dictionaries that have ambiguous meanings for words.)

As for making your pronunciation guide canon for IPA and Klingon... I think it's fine, but I have some questions about the diphthongs. (I should add that I come from an "Americanist" tradition that uses ‐ or used to use ‐ a sort of modified version of the IPA, so IPA is not quite second nature to me.)

For the diphthongs, I noticed that the little upside-down "u" mark (meaning "non-syllabic") is under the ʊ for {aw}, {ew}, and {Iw}, but underneath the midpoint between the two vowels for {ay}, {ey}, {oy}, and {uy}. I'm not sure why that is (but as I say, I'm not totally familiar with the ins and outs of IPA). Also I'm wondering why, for the diphthongs, IPA [i] is used for Klingon {y}, but [ʊ], rather than [u], is used for {w}, especially in the case of {ew} and {Iw} where the chart says the diphthong is Klingon {e} or {I} followed by Klingon {u} (which, in the chart, is IPA [u]). I think [u] ‐ or, rather, [u] with the little thing under it ‐ is okay for these ‐ but I may be overlooking something. How have other people rendered these in IPA? The problem, of course, is that there's some acceptable variation in pronunciation here, so if someone said [aʊ] rather than [au] (sorry - I can't make the little mark under the vowels), that would be fine.

Two more (minor) things. For the glottal stop, I think it might be better to say it's "often" followed by the soft echo (or maybe even it "may be followed by a soft echo") rather than saying this "usually" happens. Also, maybe say {uy} resembles the vowel sound in "gooey" rather than that it rhymes with "gooey" (even though this is less precise). I say this because "gooey" is pronounced as two syllables ([gúwi]), but {uy} is one. My apologies for not catching these before.


Talk to you soon.

 - Marc

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