Monday, October 03, 2005

SOAS, epiglottal trills, Sergei Starostin

Today I attended my first lecture as an MA student here at SOAS - on phonology. Nothing much to report yet; the highlight had to be our lecturer's demonstration of an epiglottal trill (which, believe it or not, actually occurs in some Caucasian languages; I think she named Aghul.) It's a remarkable sound - impossible to confuse with any sort of pharyngeal.

In other news, I was sorry to hear that Sergei Starostin has died. I met him briefly at the Santa Fe Institute, and am one of many to have benefited from his online comparative databases. He will be missed, particularly at the EHL project.


Anonymous said...

Would there be any chance of hearing a recording of this epiglottal trill somewhere? I'm intrigued.

Anonymous said...

Hi, anonymous guy here again. I've looked around and discovered there are such things as "strident vowels" that are vowels with a simultaneous epiglottal trill. The claim is found in Wikipedia among other places. Make of that what you will.

Here are a few words in !Xoo:!xong.html

I'm not sure what, if any, have the mysterious strident voice. Well, if you don't mind me putting up one or two comments more, I'll report back with more findings later.

Those African languages with clicks are absolutely fascinating. I've seen a claim in popular press that they are "primitive", apparently because (this is strange logic) they use such old sounds (and they are old because, get this, other languages have lost them over time).

In turn, Ladefoged wrote in one of his books that they can be thought of as the most advanced languages on the planet, phonetically speaking, because they use the full range of human phonetic capability most effectively.

I like Ladefoged's view myself, for what it is worth.