Wikipedia Talk:WikiProject Linguistics
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Opinions and comments needed

Opinions and comments needed here.

It is a renaming proposal of the Italian municipality currently spelled Codogné. It was proposed to change the spelling to Codognè. The reason of the proposal is that the Italian state websites listing Italian municipalities use the same accent (è) for every accented town name and that on the website of the town itself this is the most common spelling. The reason to reject the proposal is that Italian orthography handbooks and encyclopedies which distinguish between two different accents prescribe the current spelling (é) corresponding to the prescribed pronunciation in Standard Italian. Since both options are reasonable a large number of opinions is desirable to have a shared consensus.

Tsistuna?iska (talk) 06:39, 30 June 2021 (UTC)

Etymology versus "origin of the ..."

There's currently a discussion on the MoS about whether etymologies only apply to words: Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#MOS:SECTIONSTYLE,_"etymology"_and_User_talk:Catchpoke. Catchpoke (talk) 19:41, 12 July 2021 (UTC)

RfC at Category:Criticism of political correctness

There is a request for comment at Category:Criticism of political correctness. Please see the discussion if you are interested. --Animalparty! (talk) 02:04, 19 July 2021 (UTC)

RfC: Where should so-called voiceless approximants be covered?

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
A large majority of participants were in favour of including voiceless approximants in articles about voiceless fricatives. A minority favoured including in articles on voiced approximants. Much of the discussion revolved around the position of the IPA, with the majority arguing the IPA supports their position. Those that opposed the majority position argued that the IPA is not authoritative in classification matters and merely provides symbols, so where symbols appear in their charts is not definitive. This analysis was even accepted by some on the majority side. All participants agreed that the issue is controversial and no firm consensus can be found in the literature at the present time. resource should therefore be careful to make clear, in each affected article individually, that our placement of these items in articles does not imply that we support a particular position in this debate. SpinningSpark 15:57, 13 September 2021 (UTC)

In which articles should occurrences of sounds that have been described as voiceless approximants, such as [?] in Scottish English whether, be included? 10:44, 27 July 2021 (UTC)

  • In articles about voiceless fricatives. First, not all phoneticians accept that there are such sounds as voiceless approximants. The sounds described as voiceless approximants by those who accept them are, to those who do not, fricatives.[1][2][3][4] The International Phonetic Association clearly belongs in the "there are no such things" camp, defining the symbol ⟨?⟩ as representing a "voiceless labial-velar fricative" on the official IPA chart and exemplifying it with Scottish English whether,[5] which the other camp considers an approximant.[6] So it would be in violation of the NPOV policy if we took it for granted that there are such things as voiceless approximants.
    Second, since not all linguists accept that there are such things as voiceless approximants, reports of voiceless fricatives cannot be taken definitively to mean they are the kinds of sounds that would be considered fricatives even by those who do (which is not always clear-cut, as we shall see below), unless the authors make it clear or instrumental studies on the specific nature of the sounds are available--which are hard to come by especially for underdocumented languages. If we took it for granted that there are such things as voiceless approximants and created separate articles or sections for them, then we'd have to list sounds that we don't know for sure would be considered fricatives by all scholars alongside the ones we do, thereby implying something the sources don't say.
    Third, even some of those who accept voiceless approximants have noted that some sounds are difficult to classify unequivocally as either fricatives or approximants.[7][8] Again, if we took it for granted that there are such things as voiceless approximants and described them separately, descriptions of those ambiguous sounds would have no place to go. Whether we placed them among fricatives or among "approximants", either way would be misrepresentative of the sources.
    These considerations leave us no option but to list them in articles about fricatives. But that doesn't mean we, editors of Wikipedia, which strives for verifiable accuracy and a neutral point of view, have to disregard the other perspective entirely. We can simply incorporate both points of view by listing them among fricatives and explicitly noting that they are described as approximants by those who accept them, as done here.
    I acknowledge that, in the future, the supposition of voiceless approximants may very well become mainstream. I just do not see evidence that it currently is--the English [?] is described as a fricative as recently as 2019-2020 in popular textbooks[9]--and we have duty to uphold WP:NPOV and WP:CRYSTAL. Nardog (talk) 10:44, 27 July 2021 (UTC)


  1. ^ Ohala & Solé (2010:43): "Approximants, e.g. [? j w l ? ?], and nasals, which by definition are non-obstruents, are usually voiced. When voiceless, however, without any variation in the configuration of the oral articulators, they can become fricative (and thus obstruents), e.g. [f ç ? ? ? ?] and [m? n? ], respectively. This happens simply due to the increased airflow passing through the constriction created by these consonants - the increased airflow being caused by the greater opening (and thus lesser resistance to airflow) at the glottis".
  2. ^ Wells (2009): "One problem with classifying [h] as an approximant is that voiceless approximants are by definition inaudible. (Or by one definition, at least. Approximants used to be known as 'frictionless continuants'.) If there's no friction and no voicing, there's nothing to hear. Anything you can hear during a voiceless [h] must be some sort of weak friction, resulting from some sort of weak turbulence, which means that [h] is some sort of weak fricative -- but still a fricative."
  3. ^ Akamatsu (1992:30): "I will dismiss out of hand as simply wrong Ladefoged's reference to the second segment in [pr?ei] pray, [tr?ai] try or [kr?ai] cry as a voiceless approximant. The second segment in question is a fricative (cf. Gimson 1989: 208), not an approximant."
  4. ^ O'Connor (1973:61): "There are no voiceless frictionless continuants because this would imply silence; the voiceless counterpart of the frictionless continuant is the voiceless fricative."
  5. ^ The Handbook of the IPA (1999:22).
  6. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:326): "In some dialects (e.g. most of those spoken in Scotland), the words weather and whether contrast, the latter beginning with a non-fricative ?."
  7. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:199): "The distinction between Burmese and Tibetan as opposed to Navajo and Zulu is quite clear, but in other cases it is difficult to decide whether a voiceless lateral should be described as an approximant or a fricative."
  8. ^ Asu, Nolan & Schötz: 2015:5): "We have shown the existence of a range of variants within voiceless laterals, rather than a categorical split between lateral fricatives and voiceless approximant laterals. This bears on the ontological status of universal phonetic categories, and whether language really constrain the boundless articulatory variation available to them to converge on common outcomes."
  9. ^ Collins, Mees & Carley (2019); Davenport & Hannahs (2020).
Agree. Thanks, Nardog, for this nice exposition of the facts. In principle, I would take the stance of the International Phonetic Association as authoritative in terms of defining the mainstream understanding. It is not that they cannot be reasoned with when new evidence comes up - for example in 2005 they included the labiodental flap sound into the accepted inventory, after sufficient evidence was provided for its real-life existence, and after a lively academic debate about that matter. So, if the approximant faction succeeds in convincing the IPA, then the idea will become mainstream. Until then, we would be well advised to only mention the alternative analysis of some linguists in both articles, without giving the matter too much space. LandLing 11:16, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
Concur with LandLing, who said everything I would have, but more concisely. :-) -- SMcCandlish ? ¢ ? 14:41, 30 July 2021 (UTC)

I applaud the decision to raise this tricky issue for discussion. It is noticeably confusing in Voiceless labiovelar fricative when we read "Features of the voiceless labial-velar fricative: Its manner of articulation is approximant". I think it is wise at this stage not to go against IPA policy, but on the other hand I think it would not be out of place to ask the IPA to give an opinion on a problematical area that falls within its scope. Ideally, someone should write a short article for the Journal of the IPA outlining the problem as it confronts WP, asking the IPA membership to comment and the Executive to consider whether a change in the IPA chart is called for. RoachPeter (talk) 14:34, 27 July 2021 (UTC)

Indeed. For now I slapped a "" behind the approximant feature in the article. I wonder, though, how practical it is to interact with IPA directly. Has this happened before? LandLing 15:44, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
Hmmm...ideally, the someone should be a prolific contributor to JIPA and former Secretary of the IPA, no? ;) -Austronesier (talk) 16:15, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
Ah, I see. Good idea! LandLing 17:41, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
I agree that inviting comment from the IPA would be useful, and I think it would be an interesting experiment in how resource can engage experts in helping to fill gaps in our coverage. Presumably the article RoachPeter suggests would take a form similar to Keating, Wymark, and Sharif (2019)? There the authors review transcription practices present in the literature, conclusions on the phonetic and phonological status of these sounds, and then propose particular actions for the IPA given their review. An article like Peter suggests would probably include some coverage of how the conflict affects resource coverage which we can connect to the Journal's interest in articles on the "practical applications of phonetics to areas such as phonetics teaching" given how the conflict makes it difficult to educate the public on these topics in a consistent manner. I assume we wouldn't make any outright proposal like Keating, et al., but instead we would invite further papers and proposals. One alternative would be to propose a special issue; though it would be substantially more work, an issue curating perspectives on the topic would be useful not only for us but the field generally. If anyone is interested in working on something like this, let me know and I can help with the literature search. -- Wug·a·po·des 20:28, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
That'd be great, but it's going to take years. (It took three years for the IPA to consider whether to add a symbol for an open central vowel and eventually veto it.) In the meantime, can we come to a consensus on how best to discuss these sounds with the sources available right now? That was the whole point of starting the RfC. Nardog (talk) 22:03, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
You trying to keep us on task or something? I haven't had time to look through the literature but will have more to say this weekend. -- Wug·a·po·des 19:35, 29 July 2021 (UTC)

I doubt '[t]he International Phonetic Association clearly belongs in the "there are no such things" camp'. In figure 6 on page 35 of the Handbook the symbol ⟨l?⟩ is used for an unvoiced lateral approximant where ⟨?⟩ would be available for the corresponding fricative, and on page 136 ?u?tar?i? & Komar mention "a voiceless labial-velar approximant [?]" in Slovene. Also, what is ⟨n?⟩ used in the exemplification of the diacritic ⟨⟩ on page 24, if ⟨n⟩ symbolizes a nasal without friction a.k.a. nasal approximant? -- On Fricative#Pseudo-fricatives we have a sentence that reads: 'In addition, [?] is usually called a "voiceless labial-velar fricative", but it is actually an approximant.' Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 17:05, 27 July 2021 (UTC)

See Ohala & Solé (2010) quoted above. Just because someone uses ⟨l?⟩ speaks nothing about whether they regard it an approximant, just as ⟨d?⟩ is a handy way of signaling a devoiced allophone of /d/. (Also, some might call some allophones "devoiced approximants" but not accept "voiceless approximants" as possible segments, on, for example, phonological grounds.) ⟨n?⟩ is a completely non-issue because there are no IPA letters for "nasal fricatives". Since a "voiceless approximant" means silence to those who do not posit them (see Wells, O'Connor), attaching the voiceless diacritic to a symbol for a voiced sonorant automatically makes it an obstruent in their view (Ohala & Solé). That sentence was added by Kwami back in 2005, presumably based on Ladefoged, and is unsourced to this day, and the sources I mentioned above clearly dispute it. Nardog (talk) 21:35, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
My point is that the International Phonetic Association doesn't belong in either camp but invites users to disregard even its fundamental assumptions, see below. Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 22:16, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
P.S.: This is not the place to discuss that, but it is quite possible that "silent segments" may still be identifiable by their transition to audible ones. Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 22:43, 27 July 2021 (UTC)

The only case where this is a problem is ⟨?⟩, and then only because it has a dedicated IPA symbol, and that a historical relic. Any other voiceless approximants should be covered under the corresponding voiced approximant, but cross-linked to and from the equivalent fricative, with the potential ambiguity being noted in both. That is, whether an author transcribes a sound in the language they describe as [] or [ç?] or [], or as [l?] or [?], we should follow them as the RS and not impose an ideological decision that they must be wrong because their transcription contravenes one or another statement by the IPA.

LiliCharlie makes a good point here. Once a convention is established, the IPA needs to get consensus to change it. A lack of consensus to change something does not mean they'd have consensus to establish it today. E.g. ⟨?⟩, which violates the stated conventions of the IPA and I doubt would get consensus if it were proposed as a new symbol today (it would be ⟨m?⟩), but which has failed to get consensus to retire. Similarly ⟨?⟩, which is used as a phonemic rather than as a phonetic symbol, something the IPA says it doesn't do.

The IPA is not an arbiter of which phonetic distinctions there are in languages. Its job is to provide symbols for them, not to define them. How even members of the IPA use those symbols often differs from the description by the IPA. As LiliCharlie points out, this is true even in the Handbook. There are many more examples in JIPA. The IPA not only tolerates this, but only attempts to apply some order to it. That is, I think LiliCharlie is correct in doubting that the IPA has taken a stand on the issue of whether [?] is a fricative, an approximant, or ambiguous. They simply need to call it something, and there's been no consensus to change what they call it.

As for Scottish (or at least Scots) /?/, among older speakers it's indeed a velar fricative [x?]. Even among younger speakers, and in RP English, it's arguably [h?]. If [h] is called a fricative, as it is in the IPA, then so would both [x?] and [h?]. You also have languages like Kham which are analyzed as having [] and [w?]; phonologically, analyzing these sounds as [ç?] and [x?] runs into the difficulty that there is no /ç/ or /x/ in the language, nor any other labialized consonantal segments, but there are /y/, /?/, /u/ and /w/ and other voiceless sonorants, such as the nasals.

I doubt most of the modern authors who call English /?/ a 'fricative' have actually investigated the question. They may call it that because that's the tradition in the English lit (dating from before there was such a thing as 'approximants'), or because that's what the IPA calls it. With more obscure languages, an author is more likely to make an attempt to analyze the nature of the sound. For instance, with Hupa, Golla lists the fricatives /x x? h W/ (elsewhere ⟨?⟩), but says that /W/ is a labialized glottal fricative, forming a labialization pair with /h/. He also says that while e.g. /ha/ is phonetically [?], /W/ is phonetically [u?]. Thus /ohW#/ is phonetically [o?u?]. If we're going to insist that voiceless approximants are 'fricatives', then we'd need to characterize voiceless vowels as fricatives as well. Better IMO just to follow our sources, and to note how differing descriptions may correspond to each other. -- kwami (talk) 19:07, 27 July 2021 (UTC)

Sidenote: this has extra complication in that we use IPA as our standard phonetic notation, but authors might not, and could be using a different trancription system that differs on quite a few substantial grounds, e.g. perhaps does not recognize any distinction between fricatives and approximants (/j/ as a "palatal fricative"; such a claim still stands e.g. in Votic language), or describes plain velar consonants like /k/ as "palatal" versus uvular consonants like /q/ as "velar" or "postvelar" (to my understanding this problem appears e.g. in many sources on Pashto, whose "/ç ? x ?/" really are better considered [x ? ? ?] or maybe [x? x? ]). So this already creates often a requirement to "retranscribe" authors' usage to WP's own standard anyway. I don't see any reason to categorically exclude doing the same across different applications of IPA. --Tr?p?li?m o blah 16:01, 29 July 2021 (UTC)
kwami wrote: "The IPA is not an arbiter of which phonetic distinctions there are in languages. Its job is to provide symbols for them, not to define them."
That's why part 1 of the Handbook concludes with the following sentence (p. 38): "Nonetheless, the IPA should not be regarded as immutable, even in its fundamental assumptions, and there needs to be a continuing reappraisal of their appropriateness." Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 22:07, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
The discussion so far has focused too much on what the IPA's position is, which I agree is ultimately beside the point. The question I raised is how to discuss sounds described as voiceless approximants in accordance with our policies, particularly WP:NPOV, and I'd appreciate input in those terms. Nardog (talk) 22:19, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
I support kwami's proposal that "voiceless approximants should be covered under the corresponding voiced approximant, but cross-linked to and from the equivalent fricative, with the potential ambiguity being noted in both" and that "we should follow them [=the authors' descriptions and transcriptions] as the RS and not impose an ideological decision that they must be wrong because their transcription contravenes one or another statement by the IPA." And let me add: by the IPA or any other alleged authority. Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 23:00, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
But why in articles about voiced approximants, not voiceless fricatives, which are clearly acoustically/perceptually closer to and never contrast with "voiceless approximants"? I'd find it incongruous and reader-hostile if our article for ⟨?⟩ is at Voiceless labial-velar fricative yet the sounds it typically represents were covered at Voiced labial-velar approximant. Nardog (talk) 23:13, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
Re-read what kwami and I wrote: "voiceless approximants ... should be cross-linked to and from the equivalent fricative" so users find that piece of information no matter which article they happen to visit. That's quite user-friendly, isn't it? Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 23:26, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
But the occurrences will still be listed in the voiced approximant articles, right? Or are you suggesting to list them in both voiced approximant and voiceless fricative articles? Nardog (talk) 23:37, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
My original idea was to have separate tables in separate articles, depending on how the sounds are described by authors, irrespective of transcription symbols they use. I expect many items will require remarks such as "also described as a frictive" etc. What exactly is the advantage of departing from resource practice and present a unified table in an article that is dedicated to a certain sound but also lists sounds that sources say belong elsewhere? Don't you trust reliable sources? Or is it because you think the expression "voiceless fricative" is overly ambiguous? Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 00:24, 28 July 2021 (UTC)
Separate between what? I wonder if you've mistaken my request for clarification for a suggestion. I ask again: What is your answer to the question at the top of this section? Nardog (talk) 00:43, 28 July 2021 (UTC)
I thought I had answered that: My idea was that voiceless approximants should be covered in articles on voiceless approximants, and voiceless fricatives in articles on voiceless fricatives. This would also apply to lists of occurrences; separate articles, separate lists, even if this requires lots of cross-references. -- Should we follow your suggestion ("no option but to list them in articles about fricatives") a unified list should have separate columns for fricatives and approximants, so that either can be filled, or both, as the case may be. Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 01:16, 28 July 2021 (UTC)
IMO the articles on sonorant consonants should be moved so that they no longer have 'voiced' in the title, just as we do with vowels. The bulk of the text would cover the voiced sound, but we'd have a section for the voiceless sound if there's enough coverage in the lit to warrant one. (Probably not for individual vowels, but instead a section on voiceless vowels in the 'vowel' article.) I mean, do we really need the separate articles Voiceless bilabial nasal and Voiceless retroflex flap?

The one exception would be for [?], because that has a dedicated IPA symbol that makes its treatment problematic. I wouldn't object to keeping the article at 'Voiceless labial-velar fricative', as long as we are clear in the heading that that label may be inaccurate. However, rather than saying something like 'arguably, the labial-velar fricative is often neither velar nor a fricative', another possibility would be to move the article to '?', and to cover the usage of the IPA symbol itself as the topic of the article. The sound [w?] could then be covered in more detail at Labial-velar approximant (voiceless section), the sound [x?] could be covered at labialization, and disputes over the English sound could be covered at Pronunciation of English ?wh?. All of those articles would be listed in the 'See also' section of the '?' article.

For a parallel, note how we treat [?] at Sj-sound, rather than under the IPA name 'simultaneous voiceless postalveolar and velar fricative', a description which a former president of the IPA has stated several times is inaccurate. -- kwami (talk) 06:45, 28 July 2021 (UTC)

History of ⟨?⟩ through Kiel

⟨?⟩ was adopted specifically for the English wh sound. Usage for other languages has always been ambiguous. AFAICT, it was introduced in the 1900 chart. It was not defined there apart from its placement in the chart (with [? w] as a voicing pair of fricatives under the column labiales and secondarily under vélaires), and in a statement that for both the back of the tongue is raised. ([j] was also a fricative, as was [?], which had 2ary articulation in the palatales column.)

The 1904 description says it "is one variety of Northern Engish wh." The 1912 description used the same wording, and the 1912 chart showed it as a fricative in the 'lips' column, with secondary articulation in the 'back' column. [j], [?], [w] were still considered fricatives. In 1921, replaced .

In 1932 and 1947, [w] and [?] are in a new row for 'Frictionless Continuants and Semi-vowels', under the bi-labial column with 2ary articulation under the velar and palatal columns. [?] is not on the chart and is defined as "voiceless w".

In the 1949 Principles, the chart is the same but the description (p. 14) says, "the letter for the voiceless fricative corresponding to w is ?, but it is generally preferable to represent this sound by the digraph hw."

The 1979 revision places ⟨?⟩ in the chart for the first time since 1904. It is placed in the fricative row, and was no longer presented as the voiceless partner to [w]. It is also labial-velar, in the same column as [k?p]. That is, it's defined as a doubly articulated [x], which according to Ladefoged and Maddieson is for all practical purposes impossible.

The chart presentation reaches it current treatment after the Kiel convention, with ⟨?⟩ listed under 'other symbols' as a "voiceless labial-velar fricative" and ⟨w⟩ as a "voiced labial-velar approximant". However, the Report on the Kiel Convention (p. 70) reported that the convention had decided that the chart should include the wording that "[w] represents a voiced labial-velar approximant and [?] its voiceless counterpart," but that for reasons of space it was not possible to comply with this decision.

-- Preceding unsigned comment added by Kwamikagami (talk o contribs) 08:11, 28 July 2021 (UTC)

  • I support voiceless fricatives, as proposed by Nardog. I comment more as a Wikipedian than as a linguist, since my own research is not in phonetics or a close sub-field, and I'm not particularly current on that literature. But sources such as textbooks seem to treat them as voiceless fricatives (at least the ones I'm familiar with do), and sources of that nature rather than cutting-edge research should in general guide Wikipedia, in my opinion. Cnilep (talk) 23:22, 27 July 2021 (UTC)
    Prominent authors like Catford and Ladefoged do make the distinction in their textbooks. This is from Catford (1988:66f.) A Practical Introduction to Phonetics: "The articulatory channel for an approximant, however, is a little wider than that of a frictive, just to the extent that airflow through the channel is non-turbulent (hence no hiss-sound) when it is voiced, but it is turbulent and hence noisy (though not strongly so) when it is voiceless." Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 01:40, 28 July 2021 (UTC)
    Yes, the fact that some phoneticians dispute the distinction between voiceless approximants and fricatives (or voiceless vowels and fricatives) does not mean that we should treat voiceless approximants and vowels as fricatives by default.
    Also, the argument is largely about the English wh sound. Without that, the lit would be largely limited to comments like 'a voiceless lateral approximant [l?], which is perhaps not distinguishable from a fricative [?]' – something we can easily handle with our normal use of RS's. We shouldn't hold the rest of the world's languages hostage to a dispute about English. -- kwami (talk) 06:45, 28 July 2021 (UTC)
    This is the second time you talk about voiceless vowels. Leaving the question of air-pressure aside, in Catford's (1977; 1988) terminology, sounds with articulatory channels that result in friction when voiced are fricatives, those with channels resulting in friction only when voiceless are approximants, and those with channels that never result in friction are resonants. Consequently, [?] and [u?] which you mentioned above aren't both approximants, but have/represent different stricture types. Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 10:15, 28 July 2021 (UTC)
  • A related background issue seems to be that it's not very clear if our "sound" articles are phonological or phonetic (the "feature lists" are a particularly clear residue of this question not having been recognized in the early years of linguistic coverage on Wikipedia). Currenly my own preference would be to treat phonemic voiceless approximants (those that contrast with a voiced one or are consistently voiceless) together with the fricatives but phonetic ones as footnotes to the voiced (and also to move these articles from e.g. Voiced alveolar approximant to just Alveolar approximant). It's not like we strive to have separate articles for every attested phoneme, most prominently not distinguishing articles based on secondary articulations or minor allophones, but also not for "minor" phonations like breathy voice. It seems to me that consistent application of this approach (don't make articles on rare phonemes that can be considered variants of a more common one) would call for also not distinguishing voiced and voiceless articles for any sonorants, given that all voicing contrasts on sonorants are cross-linguistically rare. --Tr?p?li?m o blah 11:27, 29 July 2021 (UTC)
    I support getting rid of 'voiced' from the titles, but think that treating [ç] and [j?] in one article, and [j] in another might be confusing, esp. as [n] and [n?] will still be under the same article. For other phones indicated by diacritics, we treat them in the article for the base letter. Also, if we did it that way, the article on j truly would be only about the voiced approx., so it would be more difficult to argue for it being renamed. -- kwami (talk) 19:19, 29 July 2021 (UTC)
I don't think we should lump [ç] and [j?] together on alleged phonemic grounds, either. They are realizations of different phonemes in, for instance, German ich /?ç/ [ç] and Pierre /pj?:r/ [pj:] (where [j?] can be thought of as simultaneous [j] and aspiration). -- Not specifying phonation in approximant article titles seems reasonable. Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 17:59, 30 July 2021 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't understand the 'Pierre' example. Are you talking about an Anglophone pronunciation of the name? If so, I think it is much more often /pi'e?(r)/. When it is pronounced as a single syllable, I don't know how you can tell that the realization of the devoiced /j/ sound is phonetically different from the [ç] sound in German 'ich'. And, sorry, I can't see what "simultaneous [j] and aspiration" means.RoachPeter (talk) 17:25, 31 July 2021 (UTC)
@RoachPeter: No, I was talking about Standard German where this word doesn't seem to have an alternative disyllabic pronunciation (as opposed to words like Pietro, where orthograpic ie may be either /j?:/ or /i'?:/, this variation being noted as /i:/ in Mangold's Das Aussprachewörterbuch). -- By "simultaneous [j] and aspiration" I meant a VOT after the approximant /j/. Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 11:29, 2 August 2021 (UTC)
P.S.: German /j/ [j?] has a lot less loud friction than /ç/ [ç]. Some German speakers, especially ones who do not have the /?~ç/ distinction in their native dialect but make an effort to distinguish the two, do pronounce /ç/ as [j?], but that sounds much too "soft" and conspicuously non-standard to my ears. Love --LiliCharlie (talk) 12:01, 2 August 2021 (UTC)

The problem we seem to have here, besides the poorly defined outlier character ⟨?⟩ in the IPA, is that some phoneticians/phonologists have argues that voiceless approximants do not exist. But others argue that they do exist, though no language seems to make a phonemic distinction between them and fricatives. I don't follow the argument that because one POV says a sound doesn't exist, we can't report on it following RS's that say it does exist. -- kwami (talk) 23:41, 30 July 2021 (UTC)

Neither do I, because no one's making that argument. What I also don't follow is how the middle-of-the-road approach of discussing them under fricatives and noting that they are also described as approximants could constitute impos[ing] an ideological decision more than describing them definitively as approximants. Nardog (talk) 03:01, 31 July 2021 (UTC)
I don't understand. How is arguing that voiceless approximants found in the literature aren't really voiceless approximants, because some other sources say such things don't exist, NOT imposing an ideological decision? We should treat voiceless approximants as approximants, and voiceless fricatives as fricatives. When there's debate over the nature of a segment in a particular language, we can cover the debate. Anything else is imposing a minority viewpoint onto sources that don't support it. -- kwami (talk) 05:59, 31 July 2021 (UTC)
But what I'm wrestling with is the logical problem of how to define a voiceless approximant that isn't circular. Those who believe voiceless approxx do not exist say that if they produce a noise that is audible, that is non-periodic noise that's typical of fricatives. If voiceless approximants consist of noise, they fulfil the conditions required for a fricative. I have tried to suggest a way of squaring the circle by (in the article on Approximant#voiceless approximants) citing the distinction between laminar and turbulent flow (or cavity and local friction), but this steers close to POV and nobody seems to think it relevant anyway. RoachPeter (talk) 17:25, 31 July 2021 (UTC)
I'm not sure we can. There are lots of things that people argue about how to define, such as stress, fortis/lenis, ATR/RTR. Distinctions that are clear to the ear do not always have consensus explanations. All we can do is to report RS's, and to try to give different approaches appropriate WEIGHT. But if a credible author argues that a particular language has voiceless approximants rather than fricatives, even if that's just a decision made by ear, then we should cover them as voiceless approximants unless we have other sources that investigated and found that they were wrong. Also, the conflict here seems to be between reports from the real world that they do exist, vs theoretical arguments that they can't exist. It's fine to argue explanations, but IMO reality trumps theory.
Thanks for the helpful section on voiceless approximants that you wrote. If you don't mind, I'd like a citation for "the term voiceless approximant is not used or recognized by the IPA", since it is used in the Handbook, and such phrase can always be treated as atomic, as 'labialized alveolar' or 'aspirated fricative' would be. I'd also like to see how voiceless vowels are treated in sources that reject other voiceless frictionless continuants. Per O'Connor's approach, it would seem they cannot exist. Are they all [h] with various secondary articulations? (Plus, some argue that [h] is often not a fricative, e.g. English /h/ vs the fricative /h/ in Arabic. That would mean, per Wells' argument, that English /h/ does not exist. Indeed, this debate reminds me of debates over the nature of [h].) The Handbook does mention voiceless vowels, and it's not clear to me how [i?] would differ from [j?] apart from syllabicity judgements, which are another can of worms. -- kwami (talk) 20:51, 31 July 2021 (UTC)
@kwami I think your point about voiceless vowels is extremely important. If we agree that voiceless approximants exist (as I am more and more inclined to do), there has to be a clear relationship between voiceless vowels and voiceless approximants as there is between voiced vowels and voiced approximants. The relationship will be seen in their acoustic spectra - the voiceless items will have formants showing in the noise spectrum below about 3kHz at frequencies matching those of voiced approximants, whereas true voiceless fricatives are more likely to have diffuse noise spectra with the energy concentrated above the normal vowel formant region. Regarding the IPA: if it was me that wrote that voiceless approximants were not recognized by the IPA it was careless writing - I should have restricted the point to the official IPA chart/alphabet, where they are not mentioned. I am far away from my books at the moment so can't check on what the Handbook says, but I'm sure it would be worth quoting. I have contacted the President of the IPA to see if we could get some dialogue about this topic - no reply yet. RoachPeter (talk) 18:37, 1 August 2021 (UTC)
Not everything official is in the chart. At least one of the illustrative tone letters in the intro to the Handbook doesn't appear on the chart. The chart is obviously in need of an "etc." or "e.g." there, but that hasn't been fixed despite it being over 30 years. (As an unfortunate consequence, IPA Braille doesn't have full tone support.) And there are additional tone letters that didn't make it into the Handbook at all, yet they're still official IPA per the Kiel Convention. So taking silence to mean lack of recognition is dicey.
(Aside: the editors of the Handbook seem to have taken the other tone letters as redundant, apparently because of Chao's ambiguous wording in his article from the 1930s that was accepted by Kiel, and I suspect omitted them for this reason, but the missing letters encode a distinction that is crucial for unambiguous phonemic transcription of languages like Hokkien. There is even an editor on Wiktionary who vociferously rejects IPA transcription of Sinitic languages because he claims it isn't true IPA.)
For voicelessness, the Chart lists n? d?, and [n] of course is a frictionless continuant. The intro to the Handbook (p.15) says the ring is "available to reverse the voicing value otherwise implied by any symbol. Voiceless trills or nasals, for example, ... can be notated as [r?], [] etc. ... Vowels which occur without voicing can also be indicated, e.g. [e?]." No mention of lateral approximants or semivowels (or diphthongs), but "any symbol" and "trills or nasals, for example" implies them. Then on p.24 it says, "the voiceless diacritic can also be used to show that a symbol that usually represents a voiced sound in a particular language on some occasions represents a voiceless sound, as a detailed transcription of conversational English Please say ... [pl?iz? se ...]."
In the illustration for Slovene, [?] as an allophone of /?/ is described as an approximant (p.136). And in the illustration of Portuguese (p.129), it says, "in connected speech, ... consonants and vowels in unstressed positions may be devoiced." The vocalic example is viajante envolto /via'?ãti ?'voltu/ [via?'t? ?'volt], later corrected to [via?'t? ?'volt]
As for sounds not being possible because there's nothing to hear, the same is true of tenuis [p t k ?]: they can only be heard in boundary effects they have on other sounds. Perhaps something similar happens with [l? j? w?]? Or perhaps they are accompanied by glottal frication (or however is best to describe [h])? I just don't buy that well documented sounds can't really exist just because they aren't accounted for in someone's theory. -- kwami (talk) 21:54, 1 August 2021 (UTC)
Just because some linguists posited voiceless approximants when describing specific languages doesn't make the category of voiceless approximants accepted in general linguistics. Wikipedia doesn't lead; we follow. If the IPA's description of ⟨?⟩ isn't a clear indication of its ascription to a particular camp, it is at least a reflection of the lack of consensus for the category of voiceless approximants. The IPA of course doesn't prescribe any point of view, but it reflects consensus or lack thereof--precisely because it's under "continuing reappraisal"--and thus provides a pretty good yardstick for gauging what the consensus is or whether there is one on a given matter.
Any sound described as a voiceless approximant by some can be, and often is, also described as a voiceless fricative by others, so that opens up to WP:CONTENTFORK.
Separating the sounds described as voiceless approximants from the fricative articles would imply--falsely--that the sounds listed in the fricative articles are definitely non-approximant, which we can't guarantee because not all linguists make the distinction. That's something you should be wary of especially if you're an advocate for making the distinction. Nardog (talk) 18:43, 10 August 2021 (UTC)
But the IPA does posit voiceless approximants, as noted by others above. And not all linguists make a distinction between [h] and voiceless vowels. Should our coverage of voiceless vowels therefore be at voiceless glottal fricative? If I recall correctly, not all linguists accept affricates as a distinct category either. There are a large number of very good phoneticians who describe voiceless approximants, and a large number of RS's for various languages that do as well. We can't impose our POV on them through some legalistic reading of the Handbook that we have no reason to believe was ever intended to be an arbiter of Truth. -- kwami (talk) 00:05, 11 August 2021 (UTC)
We don't have separate articles for stop-fricative sequences nor for voiceless vowels (I don't think we discuss voiceless vowels in any of our vowel articles). These issues are not the same as the one raised by the OP. As for that issue, I'd prefer to cover the so-called voiceless approximants (whether they actually exist or not) in the voiceless fricative articles simply to save space and to avoid possible WP:CONTENTFORK (which personally I really dislike). Sol505000 (talk) 08:43, 11 August 2021 (UTC)
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Old split proposal, is there interest?

Norwegian language conflict has an old split proposal from 2017. I am not an expert in the field nor an enthusiast so idk if this would be useful or a good idea, but would like to remove the split tag to clean the backlog. I'm messaging here hoping there will be some discussion on the matter, and if not please ping me back and I'll delete the split tag. Thanks! -- Preceding unsigned comment added by A. C. Santacruz (talk o contribs) 12:14, 14 September 2021 (UTC)

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