Linguistic Emissions Reduction Sought—<i>SpecGram</i> Wire Services SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 1 Contents Preliminary Report on B—, one of the Tantric languages of Hm-hmumble-rsia—Freya Shipley

Moundsbar Consonantism

To the sound system of Moundsbar as established previously must now be added the familiar /p t k/, withheld from us up until just this last week by our informants, whose odd sense of humor we must simply live with:

               p   t            k
i u m N kp
e o s
0 + 5

The stops are never noticeably aspirated but speakers’ eyes appear to take on a certain glint during their production, as if they had it in mind. The labial nasal /m/ is dull and uninteresting. The voiced quality of the pulmonic ingressive velic trill, which the speakers produce upon inhalation, is as we have said before, merely underlying and not to be taken seriously. /N/ is syllabic, with flared nostrils and a general chimpanzee-like demeanor.

The previously established “doubly”-articulated stop /kp/ is now known, in the light of Moundsbar multilingualism (the speakers actually have several tongues), to have a lot more going on than we thought. The same may be said for the square vowels /0 +/. It has proven very difficult to study these sounds, since the usual X-ray cinematography produces things that look like Cleveland at night. The speakers have so far resisted our having recourse to surgery and so further work stands in abeyance.

Clearly the most interesting systemic aspect of Moundsbar consonantism is phonemic inhalation. This controversial claim has been fairly well received, the opposition being limited for all practical purposes to editors, publishers and reviewers. We state once again that our logic is beyond reproach: /5/ is not phonetically similar to any other sound of Moundsbar (or, for the record, of any other language). Indeed, it is not even in the same ball park, as it were, with any of them. There is therefore nothing it could be an allophone of, and its occurrence is not predictable. Its phonemic status thus follows as the night the day.

Be it noted that the fact of phonemic exhalation, to wit, the /h/ liberally sprinkled amongst the world’s languages, has normally been established by the same reasoning. As for contrast, both /h/, in those languages in which it is a phoneme, and /5/, contrast with whatever you please, including your Aunt Minnie, depending on the phonotactics of the language.

It surely will not be objected, that inhalation is restricted to the latter boundaries of breath groups. To offer such a patently circular piece of nonsense in order to render /5/ predictable would surely meet with universal hoots and catcalls.

Other matters: following a square vowel, /k/ is square. Velars, as is well-known, tend to be weak; Moundsbar /k/ has also little compunction about becoming rounded preceding a rounded vowel. Between rounded vowels, however, /k/ is not rounded; and between square vowels /k/ is not square. One might expect some degree of velar integrity given these latter two facts; yet when between a rounded vowel and a square vowel /k/ apparently is unable to make up its mind and alternates with zero. (To those phonemicists of the late Pleistocene who still object to alternation with zero, we say, as we have said before, Poo.)

The sibilant /s/, run-of-the mill in most respects, is voiced between vowels whenever the temperature falls below about 10 degrees C. There was a time when such a rule would have called for a certain amount of hullabaloo, possibly even talk show appearances; but now that we know more about the language, not to mention the people, it hardly seems worth crowing about.


Linguistic Emissions Reduction Sought—SpecGram Wire Services
Preliminary Report on B—, one of the Tantric languages of Hm-hmumble-rsia—Freya Shipley
SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 1 Contents