Does Romanian have the consonant [h]?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by tFighterPilot, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
  2. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    I'm no expert, but from what I understand etymological H's from Latin are all dropped and not written, perhaps because H was silent in Vulgar Latin. But h does appear in some loan words and due to the phonic evolution of some words.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  3. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    The letter "h" in Romanian represents the [x] sound (as ch in Lochness or in German "machen"), it occurs typically in loanwords, as told by killerbee256. E.g. tehnică, hotar (from Hungarian), pihotă (from Slavic), etc...

    In the above examples it stands for the original "ch" (see Lat. technica and Polish piechota) and for the soundless "h" (Hungarian határ)
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  4. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    How is the letter <h> pronounced in contexts such as hrană "food"?
     
  5. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I think [xranə], but native Romanian foreros could surely give us more exact answers, e.g. whether there are also words where the letter <h> is pronounced [h]. If so, then what is the criterion?
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  6. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Kraków, Poland
    German & AmE
    If I'm not mistaken, the correct pronunciation should be [xranə], as ă is pronounced [ə] :)
     
  7. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Yes, thank you :). I've corrected it.
     
  8. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Hello, there! What things are you saying???!!! The 'h' in my language is the same [h] as in 'hillarious' or 'hey' or 'high', the initial [h], oir 'hip', 'hire', etc., want more??? For those who have this sound in their language, do not be afraid to pronounce it when you see it!
    You said something about 'x', I think, if I am not mistaken, that 'x' from Greek is pronounced in several situations [h].
    Please, ask questions about Romanian in our thread if you have things to clarify. There are intelligent people who will answer your questions.
     
  9. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    So the sound sample from wikimedia that I provided does not represent the common Romanian pronunciation of the word "hai"?
     
  10. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    The sound is [h], not x.
     
  11. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Kraków, Poland
    German & AmE
    This can't be completely right, at least to my knowledge not, and you should know that. /h/ is pronounced [x] in word-final position or before consonants (as in hrană), and (as far as I know) even becomes [ç] before an if the word ends in -hi.

    So the correct pronunciation of "Hey", following Romanian pronunciation, would of course be /heɪ/, but the pronunciation of hranăshould be /xranə/. And thinking of a word with -hi at the end, I can come up with cehi, which would then be pronounced as /t͡ʃeç/. I don't know about Romanian dialects and my knowledge of Romanian (at least grammar-wise) is fairly limited, but I'm 99% sure that [h] is not always pronounced [h].
     
  12. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Then, it means that 99% you are wrong. The group of letters 'che' or 'chi' is pronounced [ke] or [ki], as in: 'chiar' [kiar], 'chestor' [kestor], 'chimie' [kimie], 'chestie' [kestie], 'cherestea' [kerestea], etc. That's it!
    Once again, we have: 'hrană', ' hidos', 'hilar', 'ceh' or the plural ' cehi', 'har', 'heleșteu', 'hortist', 'harababură', 'stih', 'tehnic', all these, no matter position of 'h', no matter vowel or consonant before or after 'h', all pronounced the sound [h] for the letter 'h'!
    On the other hand, [x] is for: Rex, Texas, Xerox, mix, pix, raze - X. None Romanian! 'X' is borrowed and we keep it unchanged.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  13. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Kraków, Poland
    German & AmE
    Who said anything of the letter combination 'che' or 'chi'? And if what you say is true, then I wonder why Wikipedia makes mention of these allophones and why I hear a clear [ç] at the end of cehi, when entered into Oddcast's Text-to-Speech program. Both sources might not be 100% reliable, but I still find it quite curious. Of course, you as a native speaker should know better, but still. Even the Romanian Wikipedia article on Romanian phonology (Fonologia limbii române) makes mention of [ç] and [x] in the very same positions I mentioned.

    [h] = ham, rahat = consoană fricativă glotală surdă = are alofonele [ç] și [x]
    [ç] = hienă, mohican, vlahi = consoană fricativă palatală surdă = alofon al lui [h]
    [x] = hrib, vlah = consoană fricativă velară surdă = alofon al lui [h]
     
  14. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
  15. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    I think, it is only a supposition, it's because they thought of foreigners. It may be more recognizable for them and easier in pronounciation.
     
  16. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    France
    Français
    Hi,
    Perhaps Irinet mistakenly thinks [x] is the sound [ks], which it is absolutely not.
    the sound [x] is a velar sound, which is the realisation of the letter H in Romanian, according to wikipedia.
    It seems that Romanian does not have the sound [h], which is why it may sound close to [x] to a Romanian ear, and perhaps many Romanian speakers cannot tell the difference.
    Irinet probably did not notice that the pronunciation of the English words «hilarious», «hey» or «high» (with a phonetical [h]) involves a sound that is somewhat different from the Romanian H, that is why he says that the Romanian H is pronounced [h].

    The truth must be :
    Romanian H is pronounced like [x] (sometimes like [ç])
    English H is pronounced like [h], but a Romanian ear is not really competent to tell a difference.
    Romanian X is pronounced like [ks], as expected.
     
  17. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    It's absolutely not easier so :) ... The easiest way would be to say that the letter "h" is pronounced simply [h], but this
    would not be true ...

    @Fred_C: I agree with you.
     
  18. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Kraków, Poland
    German & AmE
    Sounds plausible, but still, [h] most definitely exists. It's mentioned in Romanian's consonant table and I hear it in the word 'rahat', that Irinet provided. The problem here might be that they're varying pronunciations of just one written letter, which could cause some confusion. Just the other day, we had a discussion on the English word 'human' being pronounced with [ç], which it clearly is, but it doesn't seem to be all that obvious.
     
  19. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Fred_c is right. You misunderstand the meaning of the sign [x]. The sound you hear in the sound file in #1 is a [x] and definitely not a [h]. Can you tell us, if you think this pronunciation of the word "hai" is correct?

    Yes. According to text book the allophonic distribution of /h/ is as follows:
    [h] - syllable onset except in front of a consonant or
    [ç] - syllable onset in front of [j] or
    [x] - syllable onset in front any consonant except [j] or in syllable coda

    I don't speak Romanian so I can only tell what I read. According to these rules, the pronunciation of "hai" in #1 should be wrong: it should be [h] and not [x]. That's why I asked Irinet whether he considers it correct.

    According to the above rules, those should be [x], [ç] and [x], respectively.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  20. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    This is true, but it doesn't change the substance, i.e. as the Romanian "ear" probably does not distinguish the difference between [h] and [x], the pronounciation of h can vary between [h] and [x], possibly [ç], according to its position, without causing any misunderstanding or changing the meaning of the word. In intervocalic position it may be easier to pronounce/articulate a sound nearer to [h] than a clear [x], that's why [rahat]. But I think that the pronounciation [raxat] might be also correct, but this is rather a question for a native Romanian ....
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  21. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    You may be talking from IPA. I know for a fact that we do possess the sound [h] or [hî] and we do not have that [x] or the [c] - i cannot write the correct symbol- . If we had had peculiar instances with the sound, we would have been taught about them in school. We simply read and pronounce as we write in most of the cases. Mr.! H is not a problem in our language. Again, 'cehi' may be phonetically written as you say but the sounds you describe must be from IPA. We do not do this way. For instance, we have the word 'ceara' and we phonetically write [čara], yes? Ok. What it would be the phonetic transcript of cehi - [čex]?!
     
  22. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Sweden
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Irinet is probably not familiar with IPA, therefore misunderstanding the matter at hand.

    I believe that the Romanian "ear" can distinguish the different sounds, but I guess it needs some kind of linguistic training and/or exposure to other languages.
    I unquestionably hear the difference (taken the examples from the Romanian Wikipedia):

    ham, rahat [h] - (consoană fricativă glotală surdă)
    hienă, mohican, vlahi [ç] - (consoană fricativă palatală surdă)
    hrib, vlahi [x] - (consoană fricativă velară surdă)


    Try saying the examples out loud Irinet! I guarantee that you can feel how the tongue and mouth change to form the different phonemes.


    Robbie
     
  23. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Sweden
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Sorry Irinet but this is just not true! The problem here is that many Romanians have limited knowledge about their own language - unfortunately, a common trait for many people regadless of nationality.

    In IPA cehi is transcribed [ʧeçʲ]

    Robbie
     
  24. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    I thought that we are talking about the Romanian sounds and not about IPA.
     
  25. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    That is exactly what creates the confusion. It is only one phoneme but different sounds.;)

    Like in English which has also only one one phoneme /h/ hut different sounds:
    who = /hu/ = [hu]
    human = /hjumən/ = [çumən]
     
  26. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    [čehi] is translated in my language. Those two peculiar combinations do not exist in Romanian!
     
  27. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Kraków, Poland
    German & AmE
    You really do not understand the situation. IPA is the mean by which we can transcribe the Romanian sounds. IPA is not a seperate sound system or whatever. Thanks, Robbie, for another native opinion!
     
  28. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    IPA is a system to describe sounds in any language. You can use IPA to describe sounds [...] or to describe phonemes /.../. You mean phonemes not sounds. "Cehi" is phonemically /ʧehi/ and phonetically [ʧeçʲ].
     
  29. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    I now understand it. You use your sounds to understand mine.
     
  30. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Sweden
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Now I've started to get irritated Irinet!

    IPA is used for every language - there are no "my" sounds and "your" sounds.
    There's a common misconception amongst Romanians that "we pronounce it just like we write it" and that's just not true, if it ever was.

    Romanian linguists use the sounds mentioned in this thread to designate the subtle (and obvious) nuances of "h". Are you questioning their studies, their books, their essays?

    Thank you berdf for the correction :) - sometimes I get confused when discussing phonemes and sounds, but I'm back on track!


    Robbie
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  31. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Of course. Neigther a "typical" Hungarian ear can distinguish [h] and [x] in this sense ... :)

    I have a question: the prounciation [raxat] instead of [rahat] is impossible or "incorrect"? With other words, no native Romanian would say [raxat] ?
     
  32. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Sweden
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    After attempting to say [raxat], I've come to the conclusion that it must be incorrect :D You know you're saying it wrong when you start sweating trying to pronounce it with a [x] :p

    Since it is a loanword from Turkish, I think that the Turkish pronunciation was loaned as well (in Turkish [ɾɑ'hɑt]).


    Robbie
     
  33. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Please, do provide titles of books or essays on this topic written by Romanian linguists that you know.
    It's not my intention to iritate anyone here. I thought we could talk and solve midunderstandings. If I thought wrongly, I will no longer be writing here.
     
  34. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Phonemes are your and mine; sounds are everyone's. ... More or less at least; looking at it more in detail, it gets more complicated but as a general guideline, this is how they are distinguished.

    A more precise way of looking at it is:
    Sound: That what can be distinguished in a language, if you just listen carefully enough. I.e. distinctions speakers consistently do.
    Phoneme: that what really is distinguished by speakers. I.e. distinctions which matter in order to identify words.

    Start with the Wikipedia articles in English and Romanian. In the English version you find more in-depth texts under "External links".
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  35. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    You are saying that [x] is a phoneme of 'h' in specific situations.
     
  36. robbie_SWE

    robbie_SWE Senior Member

    Sweden
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Andrei Avram, „Cercetări asupra sonorității în limba română”, 1961.

    Ioana Chitoran, The Phonology of Romanian: A Constraint-Based Approach. Studies in Generative Grammar 56, Walter de Gruyter, 2002

    Iorgu Iordan, Limba română contemporană. Ediția a II-a, 1956, București.

    Flora Șuteu, Dificultățile ortografiei limbii române. Editura Științifică și Pedagogică, București, 1986.

    Ion Toma, Limba română contemporană: fonetică - fonologie - lexicologie. Editura Didactică și Pedagogică, București, 2000.

    Emanuel Vasiliu, Fonologia limbii române. Editura Științifică, București, 1965.

    The list is long (and can be made even longer if we include foreign linguists). I don't want you to abstain from posting your opinions and providing the forum with input, but please don't start making absolutist declarations which you can't sustain especially when being provided with concrete examples by other foreros. Be humble and reflective (referring to "my" sounds "your" sounds nonsense).


    Robbie
     
  37. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I can prounounce [raxat] also without sweating :D, because in Slovak there is a clear difference between [x] and [h], and both can be found also in intervocalic position (e.g. páchať and váhať). Now my question is, if the pronounciation of /h/ is given only by it's position or it can really differ also according to the original pronounciation in case of a loanword (as you suggest it in case of rahat) ?
    In other words, if the pronounciation of /h/ differs according to the original pronouciation, then, at least in theory, we could speak about two phonemes represented by the same letter ... Or not?
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  38. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    :thumbsup:
    That is the idea. You just got the terminology wrong:): "Allophones" are different sound used in specific situations to represent the same phoneme. The Romanian phoneme /h/ has three allophones, [h], [x] and [ç].
     
  39. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    They do provide two variants for cehi.
     
  40. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    If that's so, and of course you're right, our linguists may have used IPA when talking to allophones of 'h'. However, I could not find any specific discussion on these three allophones of 'h' in the books about Linguistics that I have.
    I am sorry that my questioning and my arguments have been considered as possessing the absolute truth. I am not that kind of interlocutor.
    Thank you for your patience! I shall continue to dig deeper on the subject.
    <...>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2013
  41. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    See Ovidiu Drăghici, 'Inventarul alofonelor consonantice', in "The Contemporary Romanian".
     
  42. Hulalessar Senior Member

    Andalucía
    English - England
    The problem is that when it comes to describing the sounds of speech in a given language there is no end to it. Those of us who write using alphabets tend to think of the smallest segments of speech as consisting of what we refer to as vowels and consonants each with a distinct identity. However, spectrographic analysis of speech show that in continuous speech any segment is influenced by what comes before it and after it. So, if, for example, you have an utterance [vowel x - consonant - vowel y] and you remove from the spectrogram the parts showing the vowels what is left my in fact indicate that the consonant was preceded by vowel x and followed by vowel y. No existing system of writing goes anywhere near being truly phonetic in the sense that it describes with accuracy how words or parts of words are actually pronounced. Further, no system of phonetic notation designed to be of practical use in representing speech can be wholly accurate even if it shows more than a typical alphabet.

    Alphabetic writing systems described as "phonetic" are more correctly described as "phonemic". When using the IPA the transcription is either "broadly phonemic" or "narrowly phonetic" without there necessarily being a hard and fast distinction between the two and the degree of "broadness" or "narrowness" depending on how much accuracy is considered desirable. In English there is no phonemic distinction between aspirated and unaspirated consonants. However, some consonants are aspirated in certain positions. No English dictionary will indicate where this aspiration occurs.

    You will find different definitions of phonemes. It may conveniently, if only provisionally, be defined as a sound or collection of similar sounds which serve to differentiate one word from another in a given language. The word "given" is important because what are phonemes in one language may be allophones in another. In English /s/ and /z/ are distinct phonemes because "bus" and "buzz" are different words. In Spanish, however, /z/ is an allophone of /s/. There are no words in Spanish which depend on the distinction between /s/ and /z/. /s/ is realised as /z/ before a voiced consonant. In Arabic /h/ and /x/ are distinct phonemes.

    Where any phoneme is realised as different allophones in a given language it is quite true, as suggested above, that native speakers may be quite unaware of it. I think the reason for it has a lot to do with the writing systems. Even for a language with a complex orthography, where symbol to sound correspondence is polyvalent, there is a tendency for native speakers to associate each letter of the alphabet with a particular sound, and indeed, to go further and assume that the language has no sounds for which it has no symbol (symbol here including digraphs). So, for English, <th> may be thought of as representing only one sound and /ʒ/ may not be thought of as existing at all.

    In this thread there is a suggestion that /h/ may be realised as /ç/. Another thread suggests the same happens in English, something I have yet to be convinced is the case, though I can see that something is going on. The thing is that /hj/ and /ç/ are not that far apart and different phoneticians may hear slightly different things or analyse them differently. /h/ is something of an odd sound anyway because it has no fixed place of articulation. Accordingly if the articulation is velar it comes over as /x/ and if palatal as /ç/.
     
  43. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    It is a bit more complex. Phonemic distinction may not only be broader than phonetic ones but simply different. Phonemic distinctions have more to do with perception then with physical realities, like in the stops you mentioned. The perceived distinction is between voiced and unvoiced though it can be demonstrated that in initial stops 90% of English speakers don't use voicing at all. The distinction relies on aspiration and energy, i.e. the speaker says [t] and [tʰ] and the listener hears /d/ and /t/. The same is true for "bus" and "buzz". Many speakers (i.e. that lady from the US here) say [pɐs] and not [pɐz] for "buzz". The measurable difference is mainly in relative phone lengths and energy.

    That is language dependent. If your language allows [ç] as realization of /hj/ then they sound similar, otherwise not. For my, [ç] and [hj] do not sound similar and I never heard any Engish speaker pronounce "human" with [hj] but very often with [ç]. You could ask the question, if it is really [ç] or rather [j̥] (if you can't see the discritics, it is a voiceless [j]; the difference between [ç] and [j̥] is fricative vs. approximant); but that's detail.
     
  44. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    I listened to some more Romanian and I think my conclusion is that different pronunciations can occur not only by different speakers or different words. For example, in the song "Habar n-ai tu" by Nicolae Guta (I don't know if I can link to a video here) I noticed he pronounces the word "Habar" in at least 3 different ways. I also listened to a young Romanian woman saying the word "Hai" (the one I mentioned in the beginning) and noticed she pronounces it as a very clear [h].
     

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