Persian: Initial glottal stop

Shih-Wei

New Member
Chinese - Taiwan
Questions about the Persian phonology:
When we read a word alone which begins with a vowel, such as افتادن، آب، ایستادن، ابرو, do we implicitly pronounce a glottal stop [ʔ] at the beginning? Is ابرو usually realised as [ʔabɾu:] or [abɾu:]?
When this kind of words are preceded by a consonant, do we always make liaison? When preceded by a vowel? What about Arabic words starting with ء or ع?
For example, in این عمر, do we read ن and ع continuously or do we add the glottal stop to separate them? What about یه آبگیر?

Is there a difference between everyday speech, formal speech and poetry?

thanks
 
  • PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    When we read a word alone which begins with a vowel, such as افتادن، آب، ایستادن، ابرو, do we implicitly pronounce a glottal stop [ʔ] at the beginning?
    No.
    Is ابرو usually realised as [ʔabɾu:] or [abɾu:]?
    abɾu

    Even Arabic words used in Persian that start with ء or ع are treated the same.

    For example, in این عمر, do we read ن and ع continuously or do we add the glottal stop to separate them? What about یه آبگیر?
    continuously, for both.

    Is there a difference between everyday speech, formal speech and poetry?
    Not in Iranian Persian, I'm also sure not in Afghani & Tajiki Persian.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    In classical poetry a phrase like dārad angubīn “(the bee) holds honey” can be scanned dā-ra-dan-gu-bīn (long, short, long, short, long) or as dā-rad-an-gu-bīn (long, long, long, short, long), as required by the metre. In the latter case angubīn is treated as though it began with a glottal stop.
     
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    Shih-Wei

    New Member
    Chinese - Taiwan
    No.

    abɾu

    Even Arabic words used in Persian that start with ء or ع are treated the same.


    continuously, for both.


    Not in Iranian Persian, I'm also sure not in Afghani & Tajiki Persian.
    I was perplexed because some sources say there is an initial glottal stop, others don't mention that.
    For example, the phonetic given in the site vajehyab writes
    ایستادن /'istādan/
    with the note /'/ for glottal stop, similarly for other words beginning with vowel.
    In this Wikipedia article
    واج‌شناسی فارسی - ویکی‌پدیا، دانشنامهٔ آزاد
    there is a paragraph which reads:
    نماگرفت از 2021-08-30 15-12-31.png
    though there is no mention of implicit initial glottal stop elsewhere in that article.

    Moreover, as fdb said, it appears that in metres of some classical Persian poems, an initial glottal stop can often be added to a vowel, as explained here:
    Persian metres - Wikipedia

    Maybe in the classical Persian, words are more clearly articulated than nowadays?
     
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    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    My understanding of "glottal stops": in Persian this applies to words of Arabic origin only. They apply to words with ء or ع in the middle (syllable boundary) or at the end of them, for example رفع دفاع مؤمن, you also get a "double glottal stop", example فعال which after all is a glottal stop with a تشدید.

    So I can perhaps help you with Persian more effectively if you let me know which of your OP examples match my 'understanding' of glottal stops, which may well not be correct or exactly as a linguist knows it.

    افتادن، ..، ایستادن، ابرو
    None of the above words (inc. ایستادن) have any glottal stops in them and I am speaking about modern Persian spoken in Iran. آب has long vowel at the start but is that a "glottal stop"? I don't believe so.

    In بی آبی "lack of water/drought" you pronounce the two parts fully so no 'liaison'.

    این عمر is pronounced: 'in omr' and not 'inomr'

    یه آبگیر is 'ye âbgir' and not 'yâbgir'
     

    Shih-Wei

    New Member
    Chinese - Taiwan
    My understanding of "glottal stops": in Persian this applies to words of Arabic origin only. They apply to words with ء or ع in the middle (syllable boundary) or at the end of them, for example رفع دفاع مؤمن, you also get a "double glottal stop", example فعال which after all is a glottal stop with a تشدید.

    So I can perhaps help you with Persian more effectively if you let me know which of your OP examples match my 'understanding' of glottal stops, which may well not be correct or exactly as a linguist knows it.


    None of the above words (inc. ایستادن) have any glottal stops in them and I am speaking about modern Persian spoken in Iran. آب has long vowel at the start but is that a "glottal stop"? I don't believe so.

    In بی آبی "lack of water/drought" you pronounce the two parts fully so no 'liaison'.

    این عمر is pronounced: 'in omr' and not 'inomr'

    یه آبگیر is 'ye âbgir' and not 'yâbgir'
    The identification of the glottal stop with ع and ء is on the phonetic level, which is how a word should ideally sound. However, on the phonological level, the sounds can be realised quite differently.
    In any language, if we want to avoid liaison, we are inevitably lead to introduce in the speech flow a prompt interruption (in order to close the vocal folds), which quite often is realised as the glottal stop.

    The absense of initial glottal stop and the phenomenon of liaison are closely related.

    When we read a word beginning with a vowel, if we pronounce it promptly, it will be a glottal stop + vowel (because we open the glottis promptly); if we begin rather mildly, it will be regarded simply as a vowel. The former case happens quite often in German (which makes it sound clearly articulated and powerful) and the latter case happens notably in French (which makes it sound smooth).
    The (initial glottal stop + vowel) is usually allophone to a vowel alone, so one is usually unaware of it.

    Here is a discussion about this implicit glottal stop:
    Glottal stops in German

    This is why I suspect when we read the words separately such as the case of این عمر, there is a glottal stop in between.

    Unfortunately, I'm not sensible enough to clearly distinguish the with or without initial glottal stop :-(
     

    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    The (initial glottal stop + vowel) is usually allophone to a vowel alone, so one is usually unaware of it
    I had no idea until recently that you could even pronounce initial vowels without a glottal stop. Really, I think most Persian and Arabic speakers will not know what you mean and simply take it as a given that an initial vowel starts with a glottal stop. But here is how I think it is:

    Initial vowels are pronounced with a glottal stop, so ابرو is [ʔabɾu:]. I don't think most would even hear the difference between [ʔabɾu:] and [abɾu:].

    A sequence as in این عمر is pronounced with a glottal stop, because of the ع.

    Something like آب انبار would be pronounced with a glottal stop before انبار if you were asked to enunciate the word alone, but I think in natural speech, a sequence like این آب انبار... would be [iːn ɒːb ambɒːɾ], no glottal stops.

    یه آبگیر would not have a glottal stop, [je ɒːbgiːɾ].
     

    Shih-Wei

    New Member
    Chinese - Taiwan
    I had no idea until recently that you could even pronounce initial vowels without a glottal stop. Really, I think most Persian and Arabic speakers will not know what you mean and simply take it as a given that an initial vowel starts with a glottal stop. But here is how I think it is:

    Initial vowels are pronounced with a glottal stop, so ابرو is [ʔabɾu:]. I don't think most would even hear the difference between [ʔabɾu:] and [abɾu:].

    A sequence as in این عمر is pronounced with a glottal stop, because of the ع.

    Something like آب انبار would be pronounced with a glottal stop before انبار if you were asked to enunciate the word alone, but I think in natural speech, a sequence like این آب انبار... would be [iːn ɒːb ambɒːɾ], no glottal stops.

    یه آبگیر would not have a glottal stop, [je ɒːbgiːɾ].
    Great, thank you a lot! This sounds like what I had expected. To summarise:
    Initial words, when beginning with a vowel, come with a glottal stop. In everyday speech, there is usually no glottal stop between two words, unless the latter word begins with ع.

    What about Arabic words starting with ء but written with ا or آ, such as بر اساس? Is it [barasɒ:s] or [barʔɒ:s]?
     

    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    I think the technically correct pronunciation is [barʔɒ:s], but it also comes out as [barasɒ:s]. It is because the two words are pronounced close together, almost as one word (hence you transcribed it as [barasɒ:s], not [bar asɒ:s] with a space).

    Now that I think about, the rules governing the glottal stop are more complex than I suspected.

    بر این اساس would be [bariːn ʔasɒ:s], a glottal stop before اساس but not این. Again, it's because بر این comes out like [bariːn], as if it's a single word. So no glottal stop between بر and این in this instance, normally. But the pause between این and اساس means that a glottal stop is likely there.

    پس از اینکه is [pasaz ʔiːnke], with a glottal stop before اینکه.

    However, that's if you asked someone to enunciate these phrases by themselves. I think the glottal stops would disappear in natural flowing speech due to the words getting closer together, so you would get [bariːnasɒ:s] and [pasaziːnke].

    But take این و آن. The glottal stop is pronounced here before آن; it's not [iːno ɒːn] but [iːno ʔɒːn], most of the time, I guess.

    So perhaps it's less to do with Arabic ء and ع, and more to do with length of pauses between words. If words are close together, the glottal stop is not pronounced. If there is a pause between them, there is a glottal stop, but it's liable to disappear in natural flowing speech.
     
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