Pronunciation of /s/

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Seonaidh
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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Seonaidh » Sat Jan 11, 2014 9:39 pm

Interestingly enough, the usual way I do s is the same as in the "instructions" for sd - and it is not as previously described. To me, it's a pretty standard s. It is becoming somewhat apparent that the "instructions for Gaelic s" are, at best, somewhat misleading - and the fact that Yellow Eòs was perplexed enough to ask about it is an illustration of this.



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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:17 pm

Did some digging. Turns out that there are two types of English s pronouncers, those with grooved s (airflow down a groove) and those with lateral s (airflow to the side of the tongue). So, I was wrong on it being impossible to do a grooved s.

However, that applies to an English alveolar s. I continue to maintain that a dental s with a grooved tongue is an impossibility because your teeth are in the way of the airflow.

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Níall Beag » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:29 pm

akerbeltz wrote:However, that applies to an English alveolar s. I continue to maintain that a dental s with a grooved tongue is an impossibility because your teeth are in the way of the airflow.
As I said, the Wikipedia article says that there's strictly no such thing as a "dental S", being instead articulated between the teeth and alveolar ridge. You could argue that it's conceptually dental because it typically occurs in languages that have dental D,T etc., but the claim in the article is that it's not physically dental.

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by akerbeltz » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:34 am

there's strictly no such thing as a "dental S", being instead articulated between the teeth and alveolar ridge
:roll: fine, in your classes on pronunciation, you teach people about pre-alveolar points of articulation. Good luck. I shall stick to the tried and tested method of telling people to aim for the base of their upper teeth and saying s or d or whatever the Gaelic sound.

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Seonaidh » Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:31 pm

...and, of course, there's always the "mental S", where you just think about saying "S" without actually doing it...

It all shows how easy it is to get hung up on terminology. I feel a bit like the chap who's reputed to have said, when asked how to get to X, replied "Well, if I was going to X, I wouldn't be starting from here!"

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Eòs Buidhe » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:06 am

Is it possible that there are multiple /s/ sounds in Gaelic depending on dialect, because it seems that there are at least two different sounds being described on these posts? I have noticed some phonetic guides done for Scottish Gaelic that show /s/ being dental and some that don't (I'm only referring to guides that use IPA, not more simplified systems).
Don't mean to open up another can of worms, but...I have also noticed that many learning resources demonstrate that 'd' and 't' sometimes block lenition (e.g., gun duine) while other resources indicate that 'd', 't', and 's' can block lenition (a' chiad sluagh). I've also read that this is due to the fact that the leniting word ends with a dental and the word refusing to be lenited begins with a dental. Perhaps, those resources that do not mention a lenition-blocking 's' neglect to do so because they consider the Gaelic /s/ to be more alveolar rather than dental, whereas those resources that consider seann sabhal to be acceptable consider it to be acceptable because they see /s/ as dental. Or maybe not...Any thoughts?

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by akerbeltz » Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:20 am

Hm I don't think so. To begin with, all the textbooks which use IPA either use the dental diacritic or state in the text that it's dental and simply use /s/ to avoid using too many diacritics. Secondly, things like bu thana and seann dhaoine are simply down to the erosion of the blocked lenition rule which has been going on for centuries - it's more or less complete with velar and bilabial groups, only dental is holding out but less and less so (depending to some extent on the geography).

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Eòs Buidhe » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:20 pm

So what you're saying is that Gaelic /s/ should always be dental, but seann sabhal and seann shabhal are both acceptable? Would you say one tends to be more common or suggest using one over the other?

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by akerbeltz » Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:47 pm

seann shabhal is borderline in the sense that is still seen as dialectal but it is so common in Lewis/Harris and my guess is that with time it will eventually break the rule of blocked lenition (along with gun, bu etc).

My personal advice to learners is to apply the rule of blocked lenition with dentals following the conservative model, not because it's conservative but because it makes the paradigm easier to remember i.e. you learn the rule about blocked lenition with the def articles and particles ending in dentals and all you have to do it memorise two bits of a rule. Once you start going into 'but with seann/bu you can lenite whereas aon still blocks lention, you end up with the kind of mess that native speakers easily cope with but learners find confusing.

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Seonaidh » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:34 am

A common example is "I'd like" etc., which is still by and large "Bu toil leam" etc. rather than "Bu thoil leam".

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Eòs Buidhe » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:50 am

Mòran taing airson ur cuideachaidh! :D

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Níall Beag » Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:06 pm

akerbeltz wrote:
there's strictly no such thing as a "dental S", being instead articulated between the teeth and alveolar ridge
:roll: fine, in your classes on pronunciation, you teach people about pre-alveolar points of articulation. Good luck. I shall stick to the tried and tested method of telling people to aim for the base of their upper teeth and saying s or d or whatever the Gaelic sound.
I get the feeling you're strawmanning me here.

If you had said at the start "aim for the base of the upper teeth", we wouldn't be having this discussion, because I can accept that as a useful pointer for the learner. I never said that a description had to be precise to be correct -- such a description is probably enough to make a noticeable improvement to most people's pronunciation.

However, what you actually said was
Touch the base of your (upper) teeth where the tooth meets your gums with the tip and you got it. If you move away from the gums, yes, you start sounding a little odd
...which I still assert is just plain wrong. I still believe the Wikipedia article which says that there is no such thing as a dental S, because the description is gives of sibilants basically reduces the idea of a true dental sibilant to being a practical impossibility. That books use the term "dental" does not change this -- it's a label of convenience, and it fits with the fact that speakers mentally classify the sound as being in the same set as the true dentals (as N-blocked lenition of S demonstrates).

To call it "dental" in that light is not wrong per se, but your physical description of it as a true dental doesn't match with my understanding of the physical side of phonetics.

You appear to be ridiculing me for my use of formal terminology, but the reason that I am using it is specifically to talk to you, in the hope that either you tell me what I'm missing, or you see what you're missing. But you just flat out telling me that I'm wrong without addressing what I've said is of no help to either of us.

It may be that you're right, but you're only convincing me of the opposite.

(Incidentally, the easy way out would have been to say "I think Wikipedia is wrong, but I don't have time to check my sources right now," and we could have agreed to differ. Instead, you just repeatedly flat-out blank me. Do you realise how rude that is?)
Seonaidh wrote:It all shows how easy it is to get hung up on terminology.
I hope you're not aiming that at me, because it's Akerbeltz who's hung up on the terminology here.

I'm using terminology to describe what I'm talking about (my thinking starts with the physical, and the terminology is used to describe the physical) whereas he's starting with the terminology and trying to extrapolate that to the real world, on the assumption it's right.

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Re: Pronunciation of /s/

Unread post by Seonaidh » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:25 am

Detailed terminology has always been a bit of a bugbear for me, as it's so easy to get tied up in it to the detriment of practicality. And, as we've clearly seen here, it can lead you wildly astray.
Instead, you just repeatedly flat-out blank me. Do you realise how rude that is?
A debatable point - but I suggest best not on here. Put it this way: at one time I had a friend on FB who I criticised about some minor matter and then found I no longer had that FB friend.

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