An old question

Robert J. Zydenbos zydenbos at BLR.VSNL.NET.IN
Fri Jul 17 07:32:07 UTC 1998

Srini Pichumani <srini_pichumani at MENTORG.COM> wrote:

> D.H. Killingley wrote:
> > If a Tamil speaker uses voiced/voiceless and aspirated/unaspirated
> > oppositions in pronouncing stops in Tamil, could they not be said
> > a 'Sanskrit accent?'
> But the voiced/voiceless distinction for stops does exist in
> Tamil... it is only aspiration that is missing.

Are you not confusing phonetic and phonemic distinctions?

When Tamilians or Malayalis speak Kannada, Kannadigas usually hear
that the others' mother tongue is different precisely because the
voiced/voiceless distinction is not made, i.e.: the Kannadiga hears
"ma.da" and "uu.da" in their pronunciation for standard Kannada
"ma.tha" and "uu.ta". So there _are_ phonetic features in the
speech of the other that are recognised by the Kannadiga as
"voiced" vs. "unvoiced", but the other evidently does not attribute
the same meaning to them as the Kannadiga does.


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