The Etymology of Timothy--Eura U. Pertú SpecGram Vol CXLVII, No 3 Contents Twenty Special Forms of Rhetoric--Dawn B. Seely

Phonetics for the Hearing Impaired,
an Autobiographical Case Study

I would almost hazard to say that the only way one could be less prepared to deal with the study of phonetics than I am is to be deaf. But then I reason that if you were deaf, you would probably know ASL or another sign language, and would be most capable (and muchly needed) to study the visual/manual equivalent of the phone. And certainly better at it than me. I've come to realize that I have a serious problem, and that my dream of becoming a phonetician may never be realized. (This isn't as bad as it sounds, I have other dreams ready to take its place.. and though I haven't asked, NASA hasn't told me no.)

My problem, as all good problems can, can be blamed on our society and its heterogeneous homogeneity and its homogeneous heterogeneity. You see, (he rationalized bravely,) I just speak English too damn well. What? I hear you mumble to yourself in that somewhat insane way you have. I'll explain. I grew up exposed to many accents and many dialects of English. Being a diligent young lad, wishing to become a competent native speaker and hearer, I developed a forgiving ear. The soothing drawl of the south, the annoying nasality of Chicago, the bizarre accent of those from Lawn GuyLand... all sound different, but equally comprehensible to me.

When a Bostonian says they will [pak] their [ka], I "hear" an /r/, somehow, in both words. When a speaker from the Indian subcontinent retroflexes their alveolars, they sound fine to me (perhaps because I retroflex my own /r/s, and I'm from the subcontinent of Texas, but that's another story). When the Irish say they are going [ait], I ask when they'll be back in. The point is that when I hear many of the world's languages' "other" sounds, I hear them in English. And more than half the time I can point to someone who speaks that way.

I have a retroflex or two, as I've mentioned. Breathy-voiced or murmured sounds? My grandmother would talk like that with her asthma. Implosives sound like my brother after a swim meet when he was seven. Ejectives are my mom when she gets mad. Creaky voice is my dad when you wake him off the couch. Pharyngeals when he gets mad. Clicks are Aunt Mabelle's only form of communication (a dental click means you're on your way out of the will; two quick nasalized post-alveolar clicks with a rising tone, and buddy, you'd better run).

So it isn't my fault, Phonetics Professor Person, if your science makes no sense to me. When do we start Phonology?

Name Withheld Due To Fear Of Retaliation Small Private University in Houston

The Etymology of Timothy--Eura U. Pertú
Twenty Special Forms of Rhetoric--Dawn B. Seely
SpecGram Vol CXLVII, No 3 Contents