LINGUIST List 6.1236

Tue Sep 12 1995

Disc: Palatal Glides, Re: Summary, Vol-6-1221

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. , Palatal glides

Message 1: Palatal glides

Date: Sat, 09 Sep 1995 20:35:32 Palatal glides
From: <>
Subject: Palatal glides

I am responding to the SUMMARY on the above subject on LINGUIST List:
Vol-6-1221. Fri Sep 8 1995. ISSN: 1068-4875, which was passed on to me as
the author of the reconstruction of Middle Chinese in question, illustrated
by the four syllables:

 kan kjan kian kjian

The first point that needs to be made is that the second term should read:
kjaan, that is, with a long vowel. Nuclei in the language in question were
either short, as in the case of kan, kn, (where  stands for schwa), kin,
kun, kyn (where y has its IPA value as a front-rounded vowel), or long, as
in the case of kjaan, kwaan, sraan (retroflex s!), and also of syllables
containing the VV diphthongs -ia-, -ua-, -ya-, the first elements of which
were syllabic vowels, not glides. Such diphthongs are found, for example,
in Vietnamese. They are also found in r-dropping dialects of English that
treat words like 'dear, beard, cure, etc' as monosyllables. It is claimed
that in Middle Chinese the glide j- could occur distinctively before the
vowel -i both when it was a nuclear vowel and when it was the first element
in a VV diphthong, but this should not be surprising to speakers of English
who distinguish the words 'ear' and 'year'. The only difference is that
English does not allow initial clusters of Cj- before [i].

So there are not three different types of palatal on-glide, only one.

For Vietnamese parallels I recommend the excellent account by the late and
much regretted British phonetician, Eugenie Henderson, 'Towards a prosodic
statement of Vietnamese syllable structure' in In Memory of J. R. Firth,
edited by C. E. Bazell, et al., London: Longman's (1966).

Edwin (Ted) Pulleyblank
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