Linguistics Anonymous

20 March 2006

A Lateral Kick to the Shins: Part 2

In which I make a few typographic clarifications.

In the preceding post I used the symbol <š> to indicate one of the sounds under discussion. This, obviously, is not an IPA symbol, but is rather the standard Assyriological notation for a voiceless postalveolar fricative (English <sh>, IPA <ʃ>). This symbol (and phoneme) is conventionally known as "shin," from the name of the corresponding letter in the West Semitic alphabets (Hebrew ש, Arabic ش). This name is the source of the jocular title for this series of posts, in which I discuss how certain instances of this phoneme changed into laterals (hence, they received a "lateral kick"; hilarious, I know). I have chosen this transcription to remain in line with the standard Assyriological transcription for the words I am discussing.

Similarly, I will use an underscore dot to indicate the "emphatic" consonant series, which is pharyngealized in Arabic and ejective in Ethiopic; its realization in Akkadian is unknown, but a dissimilation rule known as Geers' Law suggests that ejective is more likely. The lack of certainly about the phonetic realization of these segments makes an IPA transcription inappropriate in my view.

For the laterals, I will use standard IPA symbols, since there is no alternate orthographic convention to worry about; standard transcriptions just use <l> for everything. I will use <l> for voiced lateral approximants and <ɬ> for voiceless lateral fricatives. Should the need arise I will indicate voiceless lateral approximants by the standard IPA voiceless diacritic (a subscript circle) and voiced lateral fricatives by the IPA symbol <ɮ>. These sounds are somewhat tangential to my main arguments, though, so they won't show up much.

And with that out of the way, on to the linguistics!

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