14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Distinctive Names for Speech Sounds and Letters Obtained with Hyper-Coarticulated Vowels

Hartmut Traunmüller

Dept. of Linguistics, Stockholm University, Sweden

The names used in most languages for the letters of the Latin alphabet and for the sounds these represent are marked by a striking lack of distinctiveness that often makes them fail their purpose. When this is likely to happen, speakers tend to use one of various auxiliary “spelling alphabets” instead. Such a need does not arise with the longer and more distinctive letter names of Semitic descent that are used for the Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian and Greek alphabets. Short and yet distinctive names for consonants can, however, be coined with a minimum of arbitrariness by exploiting the coarticulatory effects of consonants on vowels, and their reflections in perception. These are analyzed for schwa-like vowels in the permissive vowel systems of NW-Caucasian and Mandarin Chinese, and it is shown how they can be utilized to coin names for phones and letters, especially for Turkish.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Traunmüller, Hartmut (1999): "Distinctive names for speech sounds and letters obtained with hyper-coarticulated vowels", In ICPhS-14, 1125-1128.