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Burmese: နုံ့ (Zawgyi: နုံ႔) vs နုန့် (Zawgyi: နုန္႔)

Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by Johnnypolyglot, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Johnnypolyglot Junior Member

    American English
    Note: My post contains special characters (i.e. unicode and phonetic symbols). Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of the characters I typed. In some cases, I provide Zawgyi and MLCTS as a backup so you have an alternative way to read the words in my post.

    This question is, in summary, is a question asking the difference (if any) in pronunciation between 2 "nucleus coda combinations" or "syllable rhymes" of the Burmese language.

    For my question, we will look at 2 words from the Burmese language. I would like to know if you, as a native speaker of Burmese, would pronounce these words the same or differently?

    1) နုံ့ (Zawgyi: နုံ႔) 2) နုန့် (Zawgyi: နုန္႔)

    Here are their definitions and their phonetic representations from a Burmese dictionary.

    နုံ့ (Zawgyi: နုံ႔) MLCTS: *noun. **[no̰ʊ̃] 1 v be inadequate; not measure up to (as in ပညာ-(Zawgyi: ပညာ-)).
    နုန့် (Zawgyi: နုန္႔) MLCTS: noun. [no̰ʊ̃] 1 v be weak, feeble, dull or inferior.

    * I disagree with the MLCTS entry in the dictionary. I believe နုံ့ (Zawgyi: နုံ႔) should be (num.) not (noun.). **I also disagree with the phonetic spelling of နုံ့ (Zawgyi: နုံ႔) which I think should be [nõ̰] not [no̰ʊ̃]. If are an English speaker, you can think of these 2 words sounding like the English word "known". However, that is just to give you a general idea of the pronunciation, as these words are nasalized and don't have an actual final alveolar nasal like in the English word "known". Also, these 2 Burmese words are pronounced with a creaky phonetic quality.

    This question is very straight forward and I am looking for a definite answer. Either "yes, I would pronounce them the same" or "no, I would not pronounce them the same".

    The reason I am asking is because I am seeing conflicting phonetic representations of နုံ့ (Zawgyi: နုံ႔) which is being represented as both [nõ̰] and [no̰ʊ̃] without any one way favoring the other.

    To me, the IPA [o] and the IPA [oʊ] are 2 different vowel sounds (even though similar). It is important to note, that I say the "IPA" (Int'l Phonetic Alphabet) because the Latin letters "o" and "ou" can be interpreted different ways. Whereas, IPA has an internationally agreed apon standard. So my question is specific. Does Burmese have both the IPA [o] and the IPA [oʊ] or just one of these?

    This [o] and [oʊ] conflict would apply to any Burmese word with the "nucleus coda combination" that produces the aforementioned vowel sound(s). I just gave the examples I gave in order to make my question more clear.
  2. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    These are two scripts for the same sound [o̰ʊ̃], but, said quickly or loosely, this nasalized diphtong can sound as the simple vowel [õ̰] . Think about the English /əʊ/ of boat pronounced like something very similar to /ɔː/ by American speakers.
  3. Johnnypolyglot Junior Member

    American English
    Thanks J.F. de TROYES, I appreciate the reply.

    It appears as though these 2 sounds may have merged in some dialects of Burmese (as you already noted by replying these are two scripts for the same sound). Prior to the merger the /o/ was a mid back rounded vowel and the [oʊ] was a close-mid back rounded vowel. If I was to take voice samples from a large study group of Burmese people from different regions, then there may or may not be any people who pronounce these differently. Either way, I have my explanation for the different spelling, so I am good for now.
  4. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    I'd like to come back on my previous post, because comparing English and Burmese vowels being or not diphtonguized is misleading. Pronouncing progress /ˈprəʊ.ɡres/ or /ˈprɑːgres/ depends on the speaker's origin while Burmese vowels are automatically diphtonguized when they belong to a checked/ closed syllable : Theoretically / e ? /, / ɔ? / , / o? / have to be pronounced / ɛi?/ , / ao? / , /oʊ?/ ; / ai?/ is the only real diphtong . In other words phonetically these sounds are diphtonguized, but phonologically these phonems except / ai?/ don't exist in Burmese. I think that's why dictionaries may differ about the phonetic spelling of words as နုံ့ .

    I share your views about the merging of phonems of an early period being reflected in the script. The three signs for /aN/ : -မ် , -ံ , -န် are due to ancient finals made of an /a/ followed by a nasal probably pronounced the same way as /m/ or /n/ in English ( -ံ is said to be an abbreviated form of -မ် , but I wonder if this sign does'nt write down the voiceless nasal -မှ ).
  5. Johnnypolyglot Junior Member

    American English
    Good follow up J.F. de TROYES.

    I finally got this figure out. I think if I want to pronounce the letter 〈o〉 as a [o̞ ] mid back rounded vowel, instead of a pronouncing it like a [oʊ] close-mid back rounded vowel, then it is fine. However, I realize it is not necessary and that even the MLC does not differentiate in the letters 〈o〉 or 〈ou〉 in phonetic representations.
    So unless someone replies to this thread with proof that these 2 sounds exist, then I will casually view Burmese as having the [oʊ] close-mid back rounded vowel only. The two different phonetic spellings using the letters 〈o〉 or 〈ou〉 both mean the [oʊ] close-mid back rounded vowel in Burmese langauge.

    The reason I keep making reference to the "close-mid back rounded vowel" is because of the ambiguous nature of the letter 〈o〉 when it is used in phonetic spellings. This is why [oʊ̯] is the best way to indicate a close-mid back rounded vowel.

    Matter of fact, my whole thread was started about this because I had seen many instances of [o] and was trying to get clarity on it because it has more than one pronunciation. Whereas, [oʊ̯] can only be pronounced one way.

    In English (some, not all American English dialects) have both a [o̞ ] mid back rounded vowel and a [oʊ̯] close-mid back rounded vowel.

    For example, if I phonetically spell a word as [not], a reader is probably going to pronounce this as the English word 〈note〉, like, "I wrote a 〈note〉." However, the reader could also pronounce that as the English word 〈not〉 (in some English dialects), like "I am not going."

    However, if I phonetically spell a word as [noʊ̯t], then it can only be interpreted one way and that is the English word 〈note〉.

    This is more of a global thing and not so much a local thing. The [o̞ ] mid back rounded vowel is fading even in English. Most people (including me) actually pronounce the English word 〈not〉 as [nɑ:t]. We (Americans) probably pronounced 〈not〉 as [no̞t] when we were on the Mayflower, like "We're no̞t going to make it. Let's turn back."

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