Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CLI, No 1 Contents Post-Prescriptivist Performance Piece—Piotr Pablo Paulsen

The Voiced Snore Debunked

I promised, in my last note, now to discuss that feature which has made Moundsbar such a catchword among students of exotic languages (hod-carriers and sheet-metal workers being notably less concerned with it), the so-called “voiced snore.” “So-called” I say, because it has turned out to be perhaps the rankest hoax to be put over on the scholarly community since Cognitive Spelling, or the smoking of oven-dried banana peelings in the late seventies.

Let us face facts. There are, essentially, only two ways in which a pulmonic

“Ye knowe eek, that in forme of speche is chaunge
 With-inne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho
 That hadden prys, now wonder nyce and straunge
 Us thinketh hem; and yet they spake hem so,
 And spedde as wel in love as men now do.”
—Geoffrey Chaucer

ingressive uvular (properly, velic) trill can possibly be voiced. For if the vocal cords are approximated during its production, they are doomed. Indeed, in December of last year, the Nepalese phonetician Ramawatar Dhati attempted it, and according to reports, swallowed his own larynx. Normal voicing, then, is definitely out. Forget it. Kiss it off. There remains either vibration of the lips during ingression, against which the laws of physics amass themselves in galloping herds, or a jaw-harp may be twanged against the upper incisors. Any other expedient would make breathing an accomplishment of the highest order, let alone anything we might call speech.

Nonetheless, there you have it; and since the phoneme definitely exists in the language, though we do not know what it is, I propose that we symbolize it as /5/ (there is no need, you will recall, for numeral symbols in Moundsbar, the first twenty-five numeral words being taboo, so we may as well use them for something else). We will say that this phoneme has the underlying properties that a voiced snore would have, if there were any such sound; there are many precedents for this in Classical Phonology, and if this is not the best possible analysis, it definitely beats whatever is in second place.

We (you and I) have now described the Moundsbar syllabics, including /N/, and the consonant /5/; the sound system up to now:

iu         m N         kp
eo s
0+ 5

Letters to the Editor
Post-Prescriptivist Performance Piece—Piotr Pablo Paulsen
SpecGram Vol CLI, No 1 Contents