Author Topic: Need help with a consonant sound...  (Read 1994 times)

Offline K2

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Need help with a consonant sound...
« on: April 04, 2021, 11:00:06 PM »
Hello everyone;

Forgive me for my poor explanation to follow, yet I'm ignorant to linguistic and phonic terms. I'm seeking to accomplish two things in this thread:
1. Determine a way to spell a specific sound (using the standard English alphabet).
2. Learn the correct phonic(?) term for it.

The sound is formed at the back of your throat, somewhere between the velar to pharyngeal region. It is reproduced when you constrict your throat try to rid your upper throat of phlegm. A 'wet' gargle, gurgle, gagging sound is made. I believe it would be considered a consonant. In this case, mid or word ending. I'll stop trying to explain it there as I'm already speaking way above my education.

Using 'cx' to mark the sound, it might be placed like so: hacx, macxma

I've heard the sound spoken as part of a word but cannot be sure from which language or region. So, it exists, but past that I'm lost.

Thanks for your help!

K2

Offline Daniel

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2021, 11:48:07 PM »
Try listening to the various sounds in this IPA chart to identify the one you're interested in:
https://www.ipachart.com/
I'm guessing it's a fricative (the middle row in the consonants) somewhere between velar and glottal.

There's no standard way to spell those sounds in English because they're not sounds used in English. The closest would be "kh" or "ch" for the IPA sound /x/ (velar fricative), or "gh" for the voiced counterpart /ɣ/.
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Offline K2

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2021, 04:27:32 AM »
Thank you Daniel for your help once again. I'll have a listen and post back when I find it.

K2

Offline K2

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2021, 09:57:36 AM »
Try listening to the various sounds in this IPA chart to identify the one you're interested in:
https://www.ipachart.com/
I'm guessing it's a fricative (the middle row in the consonants) somewhere between velar and glottal.

There's no standard way to spell those sounds in English because they're not sounds used in English. The closest would be "kh" or "ch" for the IPA sound /x/ (velar fricative), or "gh" for the voiced counterpart /ɣ/.

After listening to the varied sounds, none quite represent what I'm looking for (although, perhaps I don't understand the system well enough). At the websight, the two closest sounds are a voiceless uvular fricative pulmonic consonant (χ), and an 'other symbol' voiceless epiglottal fricative (H).

Since this is for that fictional work of mine, most of my readers as ignorant to linguistic issues as myself, and since this is the least used sound (but embraced by the fictional populace), I've decided to use the letter combination of 'kx' since it is unconventional (stands out), and described the pronunciation as: hakx** : feces, sh-- (vulgar or expletive). **Pronounced as though clearing phlegm from the back of one’s throat, hawk; hah-gagging sound.

Any thoughts?

Thanks again for your help Daniel,

K2
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 05:10:55 PM by K2 »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2021, 06:15:42 PM »
It's fiction, so there are no rules. That sounds fine overall.

Why not "kh" as opposed to "kx", where "kx" would probably in general sound just like "x"? "x" is an odd letter that represents the sound sequence "ks", so "kx" would be pronounced as "kks", and because English doesn't have doubled consonants as a distinct sound that would just be "ks" or "x". If it's made clear to the reader that "kx" is a special spelling (and it certainly does look unusual) that's fine, but their instinct might be that it sounds like "x".

Something that is overdone in sci-fi and can be a bit lazy is to add apostrophes, but that could be another option here. "k'h" or "k'x" or whatever you prefer. (That's used in some real languages too: for example in Swahili ng' is the "ing" sound in English, while "ng" [no apostrophe] is that plus a "g", as in "ring-guide" or "single".)

[Note that to a linguist, /kx/ would represent a specific sound, an affricate combining the /k/ sound and the fricative /x/ as in German "Buch" or Scottish "loch" -- in crude terms, almost like trying to say "k" and clearing your throat at the same time. It's a rare sound but found in some languages like Swiss German. Another affricate is the (different) English sound <i>spelled</i> <ch>, for comparison. This point will be irrelevant to the average, non-linguist reader, of course.]
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 07:10:52 PM by Daniel »
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Offline K2

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2021, 09:48:57 PM »
Hi Daniel;

Well first off, I'm constrained by what are now some rather rigid rules of P-say (I've really hashed out what I first came here for, thanks to your help). The best example of that is an apostrophe. Apostrophes are ONLY used when writing P-say to differentiate vowel types. Granted, in the novel the reader is presented an eye dialect. The P-say words are written as best-guess English spellings to generate the P-say pronunciation. But, I try not to confuse the ultimate P-say spelling by using an apostrophe in the English version (except where it applies to P-say).

This is a new sound I've just decided to use to express distaste (and will very possibly only apply to this word only).

In this case, hahkx would be used in the novel. The P-say spelling is hakx. 'A' in this case is pronounced 'ah', and 'kx' the odd sound. So, the glossary reads like this (novel version followed by P-say spelling): hahkx** : hakx : feces, sh-- (vulgar or expletive). **Pronounced as though clearing phlegm from the back of one’s throat, hawk; hah-gagging sound.

That said, I understand your point about kx = kks or more so, kexs. Your qualifying note, however, is what I was thinking...and there is nothing saying I couldn't write the English version as hahkh, and the P-say as hakx to fit it's rules (or whatever might be used to represent that sound).

So, I guess I need to think on 'what would an uneducated 12 year old (the P-say designer) determine best exemplifies that sound,' the rarest and oddest sound in the language for that matter. (She designs the system based upon slang words and pronunciations that the people of many languages as a whole embrace first).

Hmm, a tough question.

Thanks for your help!

K2
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 10:07:08 PM by K2 »

Offline K2

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2021, 08:14:09 AM »
...and there is nothing saying I couldn't write the English version as hahkh, and the P-say as hakx to fit it's rules (or whatever might be used to represent that sound).

The more I think about it, I believe your thinking on this @Daniel is valid. So, considering my note above, how does this look to you?

hahkh** : hakx : feces, sh-- (vulgar or expletive). **Pronounced as though clearing phlegm from the back of one’s throat, hawk; hah-gagging sound.

In the P-say consonant rules, I'll add a new rule that abides by the use of 'k' in this instance, and uses 'x' in addition to denote Pogue's (character) loss at applying a direct supporting letter. This is as non-technical as I could write it--though I'd like to clean up and shrink the rule.

C7. KX represents a rarely used sound in the P-say language, but one the people embraced to express distaste (much like ick, y-uck, etc.). Sound placement is undefined (so may be used as a prefix, within a word, or suffix). KX is best reproduced as though clearing phlegm from the back of one’s throat; a gurgle or gagging sound.

Hope that reads well, thanks again. Any suggestions are welcome.

K2

Offline Daniel

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2021, 12:48:19 PM »
I think that should be clear enough for your purposes.
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Offline Rock100

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2021, 09:09:23 PM »
> "x" is an odd letter that represents the sound sequence "ks", so
> "kx" would be pronounced as "kks", and because English doesn't
> have doubled consonants as a distinct sound that would just be "ks" or "x".
W?.. Just kidding. But I would really want to know how Anglo-Saxons differentiate Latin and Greek roots and choose “ks” or “z” for a x-started word they see for the first time. I do find such their ability amazing.

Offline K2

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2021, 06:56:03 AM »
> "x" is an odd letter that represents the sound sequence "ks", so
> "kx" would be pronounced as "kks", and because English doesn't
> have doubled consonants as a distinct sound that would just be "ks" or "x".
W?.. Just kidding. But I would really want to know how Anglo-Saxons differentiate Latin and Greek roots and choose “ks” or “z” for a x-started word they see for the first time. I do find such their ability amazing.

I can't speak in an educated sense or for anyone else, but what Daniel states reads right to me and I do know others in my circle would agree. When I see the word 'Xingshu,' (a city in Manchuria), I reflexively pronounce it Zingshu. Exposure to 'Xylophone' my best guess as to why. So, words that start with X reflexively read to me as pronounced with a Z replacing the X.

That said, an X within a word is pronounced (in my mind) as it sounds. X is pronounced 'exs,' or more true, 'eks.' So the word Ax (if I'm trying to spell it as it sounds) would be written (sounded out) as 'a+eks...the e is dropped and replaced by the a...a+ks, aks.'

AND THAT is the point of my fictional character's rewriting of English spellings and letter uses. It is difficult to understand English if looked at bluntly (since there are so many loan-words and sounds that are ingrained into the language). The words as written, no matter how oddly are simply accepted as is, taught and learned as they are today.

But, I have a society where a vast majority of the population doesn't speak/read English as a first language. So, since the designer of the system is an uneducated child, she uses bald logic vs. accepted conventions to develop the written language of P-say. Each letter had a specific--not variable--sound to her and is applied as such. Where odd sounds or combination sounds are used, she comes up with a simple--inflexible--system of variables.

So as an example, the homophones of 'there, their, they're' might all be spelled as 'their' (actually dei'r in P-say due to some cultures having trouble with 'th')...context determines the meaning. Context also applies in English. Proof in that people will correct a spelling--meaning they understood what was meant--so the spelling has little use past convention since they all sound the same.

To the subject, in P-say, X is never used at the front of a word, and is replaced by 'KS' elsewhere.

That's the point of this fictional language. Simplification so my fictional non-English speakers/readers may all speak and write the same, and bond as one people.

Just my uneducated opinion,

K2
« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 09:00:50 AM by K2 »

Offline panini

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2021, 12:07:23 PM »
Artificial languages generally do not or should not have unusual sounds, which might be defines as "any sound not in Hawaiian". Klingon does, but it's not clear to what extend users execute the standard correctly. Paid actors seem to have a few skills in that realm, but really it's not reasonable to create a standard that is too difficult for most people to produce. That said, it sounds like you're describing [χ], a voiceless uvular fricative, which although it is a sound not in English, people are not too bad at pronouncing. It doesn't exist in German, but English speakers faking German often produce [χ] for
  • .


But really, really, really, you should provide actual recorded models. Record a "native speaker" saying "macxma" so that interested people can hear what it actually is. All production is based on hearing, and not technical description. (I used to teach this point by instructing students on how to articulate ejective [p'], which almost nobody could do based on knowledge of how to contract muscles, and virtually everybody could do once they hear an example). 

At least, it sounds as though you are describing a sound that you intend for a conlang. OTOH it also sounds like you are basing this on a sound of a language that you heard (what language? any clue?). Since you thought that [χ] and [ʜ] are the two closest sounds, based on that one webpage, let me up the ante for you. I recommend John Esling's page at https://web.uvic.ca/ling/resources/ipa/charts/IPAlab/IPAlab.htm. He is in fact the world's leading expert on phonetics of back of the mouth sounds. One thing that you should understand is that those recorded performances are not from real language, they are theoretical constructs. The consonants [ʕ, ħ] in languages that have them, like Arabic, don't sound the same as the IPA models, but they are more like those performances than e.g. [γ] or [ɢ].

You might then decide that the sound you heard was [ʜ] – possible if you heard it from a Somali speaker. Can you make that sound correctly, can you teach others to make it correctly? I am skeptical. I think you have the best changes of success with [χ]. If you've settled on [χ] as your realistically-achievable target, "kx" seems like a possible spelling, and no matter what you do, somebody is going to revert to English orthographic practices. (Anecdote: the language has aspirated and unaspirated consonants, spelled p vs. ph, t vs th. When I sat in on Zulu, for two weeks they only spoke and did not write, then they introduced spelling. Suddenly people were pronouncing [tʰ] as [θ], and the lateral click as "ks" 'cuz it's spelled "x").

The main point is that you should try to promulgate recorded samples, which is easy if you have a web page.



Offline K2

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Re: Need help with a consonant sound...
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2021, 08:52:10 PM »
Thanks @panini, I've saved the link; I do believe from the various sites I've visited that [χ] is probably closer than any other. As to what language...I really couldn't say. Perhaps an Arabic or Persian sound? I really can't recall even where I encountered it but I have.

In any case, though I've developed this language both spoken and written to a great degree, it's only to ensure is speaks well, is a plausible progression of many languages' limitations (attempts to limit sounds difficult for some or only used by a few) based around English as the common lexifer. I'll add the work in an appendix or perhaps a compendium, but past that, most folks wouldn't spend their time reading it. For the few who do/might, however, it has to make sense.

As to the sound... this is the only odd, non-English sound. In the entire series of three novels (350k words+/-), I suspect it will only be used three or four times.

I do get your valid point about supplying audible examples, however...

Unless I write better than I think and the story catches on, I'm not sure it's worth the effort at this point to generate recordings. In fact, if I do my job well and it does, then that's something those that enjoy it might generate themselves. I'd love to do that along with all the research I'm performing, maps I've generated, and so on, but I'm not sure it will gain enough traction to justify time away from writing. I work on this language and other aspects as a break from the story to make it (the story) that much more plausible.

Thanks for your help!

K2
« Last Edit: April 12, 2021, 05:55:13 AM by K2 »