Those squiggly marks

When I consider my DH's incredible skill with languages, I sometimes think he was meant to be a linguist. He remembers a LOT of German without using it daily (and when he does speak, his diction is very impressive). He has a thorough understanding of and appreciation for our English language - he speaks well, and he talks about speaking well. And he likes to talk about English and other languages.

This is a snippet of our conversation tonight while waiting for our reubens.

Him: How far do you go to pronounce foreign or imported words authentically?
Me: Well, I don't say hah WAH (stop) ee because my throat gets exhausted.
Him: Glottal stops hurt your throat? That's weird. Well, in English we don't pronounce the glottal stop often the way they do in Austronesian languages, so that makes sense.
(BTW, the apostrophe in Hawai'i is called an okina.)

Me: I don't say ca FAY la TAY because I think it's pretentious that they use the mark over the 'e.'
Him: Definitely. It's a grave accent anyway, which just means that you should pronounce a letter that is typically silent. If it were an acute accent, you would pronounce it differently. Like resumé.
(The accent mark in the restaurant Cafe Latté is an acute accent. It is still considered nonstandard, and IMHO, pretentious. I guess they have the goods to back up their pretense, though).

We then went on to list all kinds of other diacritical marks and how they affect our pronunciation (the circumflex-not-the-caret, the cedilla, the tilde, the umlaut) as well as naming the different stops in our speech (glottal, labial, etc.). I stumped him when I asked if there was such a thing as an epiglottal stop, like when we make the 'ng' sound with our epiglottis, but I'm not going to answer that.

(Hint: If there are any speech therapists -- any at all -- out there, now would be a good time to try posting a comment!)

Anyway. While I was reading a little bit about diacritical marks, I learned the the keystrokes to make accent marks. ¡Quiero escribir en español ahora! Pero, no recuerdo muchas palabras. ¿Cómo estás? Y ¿Qué tiempo hace hoy? Y Deseo que tenía un otro amigo español. Practicaría español otra vez. Oh well.


Anonymous said...

Interesting how a random speech pathologist just happened to read your blog this morning. I'm trying to figure out how any glottal structure would be involved in an "ng" production, which is actually a continuant, not a stop. Most stops are glottal or lingual, but I believe, in our American slang, some stops are pharyngeal. I'll try and think of an example.

Kat said...

Hee hee hee. Yay! I posed a question to a speech pathologist, and one just happened to find it. I think it. It happens.

A continuant! Hmmm. I found referencez to pharyngeal stopz, but not continuants. Thanks!!