Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eating Water Video


I have turned my previous post, in which I discussed how a lot of Tai languages allow the verb "to eat" to be used for "to drink," into a YouTube video:
Interestingly, I have never seen a Tai language that allows "to drink" to be used as "to eat" and "to drink."

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Merging of /ai/ and /aɯ/ Sounds

Before reading this post, I recommend that you look at this post first.

Summary

  • Over a period of time, two (or more) sounds can merge into one sound.
  • Today we will look at an example from Thai (and some other Tai languages).
  • Specifically, we will look at ไ (/máaj.malaaj/) and ใ (/máaj.múan/) which in modern Thai are pronounced as /aj/ (or /ai/~/aɪ/ depending on your preference of transcription).
  • During the time in which the Thai script was being created, each symbol represented a distinctive sound.
  • This claim is supported by at least two factors: (i) the creator of the Thai script probably had heard the two sounds that is why two symbols were created, and (ii) many other Tai languages still have the distinction.
  • Other Tai languages including, Shan (Shan State, Burma/Myanmar), Tai Dam (Northern Vietnam), and Luang Prabang Lao (Northern Laos) etc. still have this distinction.
  • From looking at the data from other Tai languages, we can propose that during the time in which the Thai script was being created, ไ was used to represent /aj/, whereas ใ was used to represent /aɯ/.
  • Perhaps, the merging of the two may have been influenced by the fact that /ai/ and /aɯ/ are similar sounds. 
  • In particular, /i/ and /ɯ/ are high vowels.
  • Other Tai languages including Lao (except Luang Prabang), Tai Lue, and Northern Thai have also merged the two sounds into /aj/.
  • Interestingly, it is quite rare to see a Tai language merging the two sounds into /aɯ/.
  • This may be due to the fact that cross-linguistically the /aɯ/ sound is quite rare.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tai Sound Review: Northern Thai



In Tai Sound Review, I will mainly discuss sound merges across Tai languages. I will use Thai alphabet to represent all Tai languages.

Northern Thai aka Kam Mueang (คำเมือง lit. "city language") is mainly spoken in the Northern region of Thailand.

Common Features (after Tone Split)
  • Distinction between r (ร) and l (ล). The former has become /h/.
  • Some distinction among ʔj, j, and ɲ (อย, ย, ญ respectively). The j and ɲ merged into /ɲ/, while ʔj became /j/. Thus, there is a distinction between j (อย) and ɲ (ย/ญ).
  • Some may pronounce tr (ตร) as k (ก). Thus for these people, there is no distinction between tr and k.
  • No distinction between kʰ (ข) and x (ฃ). Both are pronounced as kʰ (ข).
  • Distinction between historic g (ค) and ɣ (ฅ). The former is pronounced as /k/ and the latter as /kʰ/.
  • No distinction between historic cʰ (ฉ) and s (ส). Both are pronounced as s (ส).
  • All consonant clusters are simplified, e.g. kl (กล) becomes k (ก), except stop+w clusters, e.g. kw (กว).
  • Historic unaspirated stops + r (which became /h/) merged with aspirated voiceless stops. E.g. pr (ปร) > pʰ (ผ). Thus, there is no distinction between pr and pʰ.
  • No distinction between -aj (ไ) and -aɯ (ใ). Both are pronounced as /aj/.
  • Historic voiced stops became unaspirated voiceless stops. E.g. *d > t (ท > /ต/). Thus, unlike Thai, there is a distinction between historic d (ท) and dh (ธ). The former is pronounced as /t/ and the latter as /tʰ/.
  • s + w is a possible cluster. E.g. สวัสดี is pronounced as swúat.sá.dii Cf. Thai sa.wàt.dii.
  • Distinction among six tones. Unlike Thai, tone 3 and tone 5 are pronounced differently, e.g. หญ้า and ย่า are pronounced differently. The former has glottalized high level tone, while the latter has falling tone (Chiang Mai) or mid tone (Naan).

Tai Sound Review: Lao


In Tai Sound Review, I will mainly discuss sound merges across Tai languages. I will use Thai alphabet to represent all Tai languages.

Lao is mainly spoken in Laos and Northeastern region of Thailand where it is known as Isaan (อีสาน).

Common Features (after Tone Split)
  • Distinction between r (ร) and l (ล). The former has become /h/.
  • Some distinction among ʔj, j, and ɲ (อย, ย, ญ respectively). The j and ɲ merged into /ɲ/, while ʔj became /j/. Thus, there is a distinction between j (อย) and ɲ (ย/ญ).
  • Some may pronounce tr (ตร) as k (ก). Thus for these people, there is no distinction between tr and k.
  • No distinction between kʰ (ข) and x (ฃ). Both are pronounced as kʰ (ข).
  • No distinction between cʰ (ฉ, ช) and s (ส, ซ). All are pronounced as s (ส, ซ).
  • Vowel reduction in words with kw and kʰw (กว,ขว,คว). E.g. kwaan (กวาน) > kuan (กวน).
  • All consonant clusters are simplified, e.g. kl (กล) becomes k (ก), except stop+w clusters, e.g. kw (กว).
  • Except for Luang Prabang dialect, no distinction between -aj (ไ) and -aɯ (ใ). Both are pronounced as /aj/.
  • Historic voiced stops became aspirated voiceless stops. E.g. *d > tʰ (ท).
  • There is no distinction between tone 2 and 5, e.g. ข่า and ค่า are pronounced the same way, i.e. kʰaa. Both have mid tone.

Tai Sound Review: Colloquial Thai (Central Thai/Siamese)

In Tai Sound Review, I will mainly discuss sound merges across Tai languages.
Siamese aka Spoken Thai is mainly spoken in the central region of Thailand. Such area includes Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. The standard form of Siamese is called Standard Thai which is an official language of Thailand.

Common Features (after Tone Split)

  • No distinction between r (ร) and l (ล). The former is pronounced like the latter; both are pronounced as /l/. 
  • No distinction among ʔj, j, and ɲ (อย, ย, ญ respectively). All are pronounced as /j/ (ย).
  • Older generation may pronounce tr (ตร) as k (ก). Thus for these people, there is no distinction between tr and k.
  • No distinction between kʰ (ข) and x (ฃ). Both are pronounced as kʰ (ข).
  • A few may pronounce kw and kʰw (กว,ขว,คว) as f (ฝ, ฟ). Thus, no distinction among kw, kʰw, and f.
  • All consonant clusters are simplified, e.g. kl (กล) becomes k (ก), except stop+w clusters, e.g. kw (กว).
  • Some may pronounce s (ซ, ส, ศ, ษ) as /ɬ/.
  • No distinction between -aj (ไ) and -aɯ (ใ). Both are pronounced as /aj/.
  • Historic voiced stops became aspirated voiceless stops. E.g. *d > tʰ (ท).
  • There is no distinction between tone 3 and 5, e.g. ข้า and ค่า are pronounced the same way, i.e. kʰâa. Both have falling tone.