Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Phonotactic phunnies

OK, we all know the unpronounceable foreign name shtick. No big surprise that Doonesbury plays the game. The pronunciation of Berzerkistan's leader may well look like a Tashlhiyt Berber word — ‘tgzmt’ and things like that are fine in the language. But if you look at the strings Trudeau uses, the spellings aren't that bad — there are enough sonorant consonants in there so that you could make them work, even as an English speaker. But what struck me was the initial [ptk] in the pronunciation. He just happened (I imagine) to pick the three lowest sonority sounds for which we have good symbols, and put them in order from front to back.

2 comments:

Ollock said...

Somehow when I try to pronounce < ptklm> I end up with something similar to a bilablial click (but closed at the alveolar ridge rather than the vellum), then (I think) a lateral click, then [lm=]. I think, my self analysis is probably a bit off, though.

Mr. Verb said...

Have you read the more recent strips or the discussion of them on Language Log? They 'offer' to have Duke's tongue 'curled' so he can pronounce the name.