Outwith the mouth

ORGANS OF GENERATION said the Greek grammar I had at school. It meant the tongue, the teeth, the lips, the alveolar ridge, the soft palate and so forth. The other morning I was thinking about the consonant you’d produce if you bit into the soul patch with your top front teeth. The World Atlas of Linguistic Structures, in its list of languages with weird consonants, doesn’t list any with points of articulation outwith the mouth. There don’t even seem to be good names for the areas in between the bottom lip and the chin, unlike inside the mouth.

More languages have labiovelars (unlike English, but like in Laurent Gbagbo’s name) than have ‘th’ sounds (like English).

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4 Responses to Outwith the mouth

  1. Phil PH says:

    Wouldn’t it make a big difference to such a consonant whether the speaker was bearded? It would either be a breathy but clear “Fff” or a fuzzy “Vvv”. Could be useful in one of those tribal languages which is taboo to adult males unless they’ve shaved thoroughly.

  2. colin says:

    I read somewhere that’s how the clicks ended up in Zulu and Xhosa, but I don’t know whether that’s been falsified or even falsifiable.

    Of course, difficult-to-pronounce languages that you learn as part of a coming-of-age ritual aren’t unknown in the West. Look at Perl.

  3. smallbeds says:

    “If anyone said ‘vivowev’, because he could not pronounce it, then they would seize him and shave him by the shores of Jordan.”

    … Colin, this post was written essentially because you want to render Joey noises in IPA, hasn’t it?

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