Palatalization in English

Discussion in 'English Only' started by linguists, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. linguists New Member

    Cantonese
    Palatalization occurs in English, like t sound becomes ch sounds, for example, in got you. Here's the question. Why some words are not palatalized when they have the conditions to trigger palatalization? Words such as produce, pronounced as pro-djus but not pro-jus, tube pronounced as tjub but not chub??
     
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Welcome to the forum, Linguists:) In fact those words (and a whole host of other similar ones) very often do get palatalized in everyday speech, so people say pruh-juice /prə'[FONT=Arial Unicode MS,code2000,lucida sans unicode]ʤu[FONT=Arial Unicode MS,code2000,lucida sans unicode]ː[/FONT]s/ [/FONT]and chube /'[FONT=Arial Unicode MS,code2000,lucida sans unicode]ʧu[FONT=Arial Unicode MS,code2000,lucida sans unicode]ː[/FONT]b/[/FONT]. Everyone does it. (But not everyone realizes they do it ... or is prepared to admit it.)
     
  3. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    They're both palatalised in my speech.

    Like most other phonetic processes in various dialects there's a sort of clinal process where some words are affected and others aren't. For example, RP dialects are a good characteristic where words generally don't palatalise, but in normal speech everywhere else (especially the North and South West) many more words are palatalised. Palatalisation occurs because of the [j] sound that isn't in the written word, and in some variations of English this sound dropped out (esp. in America) so these aren't palatalised because the phonetic environment (the sounds surrounding each other) are not correct for the process to happen.

    More high class speech (in both sounds and word forms) tends to remain more archaic and processes that are more 'advanced' are generally an indication of a more colloquial and less high class version of speech, which you can see in many many languages as well as English, too. So given this is a new(ish) sort of process (last few hundred years), the 'posh' speech retains the form without the development (for the most part) while other more working-class places (i.e. the north of England) often show more advanced developments. If I heard the word 'tune' without palatalisation in English, with a clear yod I'd immediately think this person is really posh and has rich parents and all the sociolinguistic stereotypes that we're conditioned to believe when hearing such pronunciations.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  4. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Can't agree with you here, esteemed erm ...... oderator. I am sure I don't say "chube". Perhaps there is a degree of palatalization going on in my pronunciation of "tube", but it's definitely not enough to produce "chube".
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  5. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Hey SS.
    Do you say "tune" like the WR-UK version in the dictionary?

    Forvo has 6 versions of pronunciations for 'tube'; 2 U.S that (as expected) don't have it, but the other 4 do, 3 of which are from the UK and 1 from Australia. Out of the 4 pronunciations there is only one UK speaker who doesn't have palatalisation ('TopQuark'). Do you identify your pronunciation as closer to his than the others? It's odd to me as I'm with the other 3 speakers on that word. His pronunciation is more US-like (with yod-dropping) than the traditional RP version which would sound like the pronoun "you" with a little "t" in front of it, ending with a "b".
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  6. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Afternoon, Alex,

    My pronunciation is similar to that on the audio file, but my vowel is less "fronted", I think. I don't hear "chune" on the audio file for "tune". My mouth makes a different shape for "chune" from the one it makes for "tune".
     
  7. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    ʃʃ
    Ah, well that'll be the answer then.
    I was surprised when you said you didn't say "chube" to ewie, but if you don't hear "chune" on the recording for "tune" then that's the explanation. What we're talking about as being "chune" is what's on that audio file. I'm struggling to find a recording of the non-palatalised version at the moment, but once I do the comparison between them will be clear that the process has occurred!

    My mouth also makes a different shape between "cheese" and "tune" (regarding the first sound), but calling it "ch" is still representative of both differing pronunciations. Just like using "k" to represent the sound in "key" and the sound in "cow", which most people don't even realise are in different places in the mouth for many many speakers. We're just using "ch" here as a way to avoid using IPA which a lot of other people aren't very familiar with, so there are a lot of bad misconceptions about using English spellings, and I think using it here has just created another one. I'd have liked everyone to study IPA so we never had to talk about "ch" but rather...[tʃ], which is representative of a wide-open more frontal "ch" sound, as well as closed and rounded much further back [tʃ]. The ability to notice a difference doesn't always mean it's "not <something>".

    Imagine saying "give it to you", only in a relatively few accents would "to you" fully palatalise here (and sound like "give it chew") and in fast colloquial speech the "o" of "to" would be reduced and maybe even disappear, just becoming a little "t" before "you" (as I mentioned before).. that pronunciation, preceding "n" is the non-palatalised version.. sort of like a quick "to you-n". It's got that same sound that really posh people have when they "suit" and put the [j] in. I don't think you'd speak like that (but maybe?), and if you don't sound American without it (i.e. where it'd rhyme with 'noon') then there's some degree of palatalisation which can be represented by calling it "ch" or [tʃ].

    I could cite some examples if we could post on YouChewb (lol). Actually that in itself is sort of proof, if you say "You chew" similar to "You tube". Sometimes you get the full on "chhhhhhhhh", but other times it's like a quick trill of the "ch" sound, but like I said, there's no way in English spelling (or IPA that I'm aware of) to make a distinction that's so small and for many, imperceptible.
    :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  8. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    Hi
    I know this is a very old thread, but I´m very new to this phenomenon, so I´m reopening it.
    I totally recognise the sound in the words you guys point out; I didn´t know there was a name for it though.
    Apparently that palatalization process occurs also in words like "theaten". I found it very difficult to come to terms with the fact the small /j/ in the phonetic transcription meant a kind of approximation of the tongue to the palate. Doesn´t the fact that the schwa isn´t pronounced sometimes imply a palatalization on its own? I mean, why the small /j/. To me the sound in tube is miles apart from the /n/ in threaten. Naturally I´m assuming that the palatalization takes place in the /n/ sound, as the small /j/ appears at the end of the phonetic transcription. Or does it happen in the second /t/ sound? If so, shouldn´t the small /j/ be placed between the second /t/ sound and the schwa or the /n/?

    Am I making any sense at all? :eek:

    Ta!
     
  9. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    Not a lot of sense - or rather, if you've found a phonetic transcription of threaten with a palatalization sign anywhere on it, the transcription isn't making a lot of sense. You're quite right in thinking that there's nowhere on this word that anyone would palatalize, in any accent.
     
  10. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    Yeah, well, that´s exactly what I thought when I saw the small /j/ here in WR in the entry for threaten: no sense or nonsense, more like! But then I found out it means "palatalization" and when I saw this thread I thought that the phenomenon discussed in this thread didn´t have much to do with whatever palatalization might or might not take place in "threaten", thus my bewilderment...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatalization
     
  11. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    :confused::confused::confused::confused::confused: Hullo Kidi ~ can you point us to exactly where you've seen this ... erm ... thing?
     
  12. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
  13. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
  14. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    :thumbsup: Hmm, how odd.
    I would guess that that's someone's attempt to represent (erm...) 'syllabic n' ... which, if my memory serves me well, is represented in regular IPA as /ņ/*. It's supposed to convey the idea that the en contains a vowel even shorter than a schwa (/ə/), i.e. you go straight from the t of threat into an /n/ ... only that's not possible in English so you have to produce something-or-other ... and hey presto, that's 'syllabic n'. [This is probably the feeblest explanation of the phenomenon ever given ...:D]
    I presume the reason that symbol is given for threaten, frighten, shorten, etc., but not for lengthen, is that ~ for obscure phonologetical reasons, it's not possible to produce a syllabic n after a /Ɵ/.
    Maybe someone who knows what he's talking about would like to chip in ...:eek:

    P.S. As far as I'm aware a palatalized consonant is represented with a subscript rather than a superscript j.

    *Well, that's the symbol I've always used, anyway.
     
  15. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    In these words the "en" is a strange sound which I would not have transcribed /j/. That's like a "y". It's like a rapid glottal stop between the "t" and the "n". You also hear it in "Britain" /brIt'n/. I'd have written it with an apostrophe.
     
  16. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    Well, I guess you´re right, Ewie, because it seems like we´re talking about what could be considered as an allophone, rather than a phoneme and if my equally feeble memory doesn´t fail me, variations of one sound are represented by subscripts, at least in Spanish phonetics, though Merquiades suggestion is good enough for me, unlike /j/ which is really misleading...
    I guess that the non-scientific explanation for the fact that this happens in words like shorten, frighten, burden and so on, and not in lengthen is that the /t/ and the /d/ are alveolar, so it´s pretty easy to go from there straight to the /n/ which is also alveolar. Whereas the transition from /θ/ to /n/ is harder to utter, as the former is interdental...and fricative...so the schwa comes in handy there to soothe the transition, kind of...
    How´s that for a shirtsleeve phonological explanation, huh?:cool:
    Anyways, I guess we all agree that /j/ is not erm...the most correct of the possible transcriptions. I´ve been looking up "frighten" in some dictionaries and none of them shows that freaking j!

    Thanks for you input guys, it´s most appreciated.
     
  17. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'm very puzzled by this transcription. I haven't got the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary, but the current preview from Amazon seems to indicate that the more standard way of indicating a syllabic n is used now. (See the screen capture here: Concise Spanish.jpg )
    Unless it's a case of the symbol not 'translating' well in the WR Dictionary display? :eek:
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  18. exgerman Senior Member

    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    The palatalization is not present in the English definition dictionary. I suspect that it is intended to help native Speakers of Spanish in some way, since palataized n is a Spanish phoneme.
     
  19. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    We were discussing this also in another thread. I'm sure it's a typo. There is no palatalization in 'shorten'. And it's not some kind of help to Spanish speakers. The 'palatalized' n, spelled 'ñ' has nothing to do with 'shorten'.
     
  20. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    I agree with you, Duvija, I can´t see how that /j/ can help us...At least it didn´t help me at all, and I swear I´m a native speaker of Spanish...
    Having said that, I must add that I´ve found this. If you go where it says 2. La transcripción de los sonidos del español, you´ll find that superscript for an n palatalized and nasal, like in the word conllevar...Not much help anyway. I mean, Spanish students of English might know some English phonetics, but I´m sure they know nothing about phonetic trancriptions of Spanish... I studied them a long time ago, and I didn´t remember the small /j/ up there...I remembered the /j/ sound described by the first posters in this thread though. Well, not only remembered it, it´s actually very present in my life:rolleyes:
    So, to recap, the /j/ in threaten and similar words doesn´t help at all. It´s taken me one day to come to terms with it and to know why it is there. Waste of time, because it´s like using Spanish phonetics to represent a sound from English. It doesn´t make sense; and if the wretched symbol doesn´t appear in the English definition part of WR, I don´t see why it should be in the English-Spanish dictionary.:eek:
    I wouldn´t say that ñ is palatized or whatever, I would say it´s palatal, there is a difference. In other words, palatized consonants are allophones---in Spanish, that is-- whereas the sound ñ, a palatal one, is a phoneme; it´s not a palatized n. Palatized n´s are n´s that are uttered next to a palatal phoneme, but remain being n´s all their lifes...:D
     
  21. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    I agree one hundred percent. That's why I wrote 'palatalized' n, in quotation marks.
    /ñ/ is a phoneme. But the n before/ y, ll, ch (my palatals in Spanish), becomes a (arrg, I can't find it. It's like an angma, but with the long leg to the left). I'm looking for the IPA, because you send me a link to Navarro Tomás, and the symbols are not clear - they probably drew them by hand).
    Still, this has nothing to do with 'shorten'.

    I found some examples in Sanskrit pramāṇitaṃ, mātṝṇām
    I can't find clearly printed examples in Yoruba, but many other languages have syllabic nasals.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  22. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I can only assume that the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary uses superscript j to represent something which isn't palatalisation.

    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to work out what that something is:(.
     
  23. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    Duvija in the link I posted, there are loads of phonetic representations. You need to go down the page to get to where I pointed out. But then again the dot under the Spanish n means that the sound is "interdental". So, it has nothing to do with the dot under the n in English, where it apparently indicates "syllabic n". Not quite the same. Loob--> :confused: :confused: <--me.

    To add insult to injury, the superscript j, in my mind is used in English only to indicate that in connected speech, words that end in an /I/ sound followed by a word that starts with a vowel sound, "undergo" a process known as "linking", whereby a new sound similar to /j/, only softer--thus the superscript /small flying j/-- is produced. Example: there is a linking j --represented with a small unidentified flying j, aka UFJ:D-- between the words: my arms /maI j a:mz/ Sorry, about the awful phonetic transcription there.

    That linking process is similar to the one that happens when in connected speech one word that ends in an /u:/ or /u/ sound come before a word that begins with a vowel. There we get the UFW, unedentified flying w. Example: you are /ju: w a:/. Again, sorry about the apalling attempt at representing those sounds. (Note that I can´t make neither the j nor the w, small and flying, but you already know the symbol if you´ve gone to the entry for threaten in the E-S dictionary)

    That is what really confused me yesterday. I had only seen that superscript to represent that linking process that occurs in connected speech, so I couldn´t make out what it meant in the word threaten, which I´m beginning to hate...
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  24. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Where exactly did you see the flying j marking linking? I've never seen it marked that way. Any particular author or country?
     
  25. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    Gimson´s Pronunciation of English, page 306.
    Excellent book. Enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  26. duvija

    duvija Senior Member

    Chicago
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Uh. Cruttenden tends to be good. I didn't know he came up with that stuff, instead of the y/w addition to either the end of a word, or the beginning of the next... (gotta check it out).
     
  27. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    linking j w.jpg

    I don´t know if you´ll be able to read it, but there you go.


    I believe that all the honours should go to A. C. Gimson, not to Cruttenden...
     
  28. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi again kidika

    I've been trying to work out why the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary might be using superscript j. As you say, the dictionary uses it in its entry for frighten but not in its entry for lengthen; it also uses it in its entry for redden. Maybe it's something to do with syllabic 'n' after a dental consonant?

    Hmmm....

    I'll try to visit a local bookshop tomorrow and see if I can find a paper copy of the dictionary which explains the symbols:).
     
  29. kidika

    kidika Senior Member

    Península Ibérica
    Castellano de Castilla
    Strictly speaking, the English /t/ is not dental, it´s actually alveolar.
    Yes, it might be an attempt at representing an English sound, using the representation of a Spanish allophone...if that´s the case, it doesn´t make any sense whatever. And if it only indicates a palatalization of the /n/, it doesn´t make much sense either, as some people here are saying that that n is a syllabic n. Or if it indicates a palatalization, that one is so subtle that could be considered an allophone, rather than a phoneme...I guess....
    This morning one of my students discovered another pearl: little , so I guess there must be a whole bunch of words in the Spanish dictionary that display the UFJ. Funny thing is the English-English dictionary doesn´t...I guess they love Spanish speakers so much that they give us an extra symbol to worry about. Aren´t they adorable!

    Please fill us in if you come up with a sensible explanation!
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012

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