divendres, 20 de març del 2009

Catalan phonetics

I love phonetics. And I specially love the phonetics of Catalan dialects (as my friends know very well). I will, definetely, write about phonetics some day, but I am still think about how to make is sound easy and interesting.

Now I'd like to post the phonetics of the word "català" (Catalan). for the so-called standard phonetics (not all dialects pronounce it like this). If you know the International Phonetics Alphabet you will know what every symbol means. For the ones who do not know, I try to explain how to disentangle this mess ;).

- "k" its easy :).
- The inverted "e" represents the "schwa" sound like the "e" in "water".
- The "t" you know, the thing is the little symbol below. That means this "t" is dental, which means that it is pronounce with the tongue between your teeths (the "t" in Catalan is always like this, in opposition to English, where to pronounce this letter you place the tongue in the alveolar ridge).
-The apostrophe marks the strong syllable which in the word is "là".
-The following that looks like a Polish letter, mean a "retracted l". What is this? A retracted "l" is an "l" which is pronounce by curling the back of the tongue toward the palate/roof of the motuh. I don't know how I do it because all Catalan "l" are pronounced like this, but for a Polish this is very important because they difference between the "normal l" (like the "l" in "lullaby") and the retracted "l". Not for Catalans, we only have the "retracted l".
It worth mentionin that this is what betrays a Catalan speaker speaking Spanish. I had a hard time learning not to force my "l" when speaking Spanish and, though, I've improved, this still betrays me.
As for you, just know this is a minor issue, interesting to phonetic-lovers, but just say the sound "l" and don't worry about retractions, we won't notice the difference. In fact, I didn't know about this issue until I took Catalan phonetics at university.
- The "a" is easy. The two points above it only mean that the breath falls in the a.

NOTE: all syllables have the same length (unlike English!), as well as all the vowels: CA-TA-LÀ. Don't make weak syllables shorter.
NOTE 2: some dialects (western Catalan dialects) don't have the "schwa" sound, they would pronounce all as a tonic "a". For example, I would say it like the phonetics above, ie, pronouncing the "schwa" because I have an Eastern dialect, but my boyfriend, who has a Western dialect, would pronounce all "a". But this is not a problem for communication, it's just a feature and sometimes something to laugh and have fun specially when trying to imitate each other's dialects.

6 comentaris:

anna ha dit...

Wow, that's interesting! Actually, I do know a bit of the phonetics alphabet, but of course not so much. I think it makes it a lot easier to learn a language and understand the differences.

Anna ha dit...

Anna, I totally agree with you. IPA is a great invention :).
Did you know that when the Pope talks in different languages he's given the speech in phonetics so he knows how to pronounce?

anna ha dit...

No, I didn't know that the Pope does it this way. But of course, it makes sense. Thanks for the insight ;-).

Jim Morrison ha dit...

Hola Anna,
Acabo de trobar el teu bloc i m'agrada molt! I have bookmarked it so I can come back. A bit about Catalan and a bit about Catalonia. Both are good for me as I am coming to live in Catalonia next year ;-)

Anna ha dit...

Hola Jim!

Encantada de conèixer-te. ;)

Feel free to add the blog and comment. Where in Catalonia will you live?

Per qualsevol cosa, no dubtis a escriure!


Jim Morrison ha dit...

Esperem viure a prop de Navas a Bages perque es alla on va neixer la meva novia. The problem will be getting a job though. The same problem for everyone. Anyway, I am glad I found your blog and I will keep my eye on it.
Que vagi be,