North-south / front-back
Thread poster: Daniel Frisano

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 04:41
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Nov 15, 2017

This is something that I have been wondering for some time.

It seems that within the European-Mediterranean language space, the further you move south, the lower certain sounds are articulated. Hard "g" is purely velar in English, French or Italian, then slips a bit down the throat in Spanish and Greek, and further down in (standard) Arabic with its rich inventory of uvular and pharyngeal sounds.

Conversely, moving north, certain vowels sounds seem to move up the mouth, what with German umlaut-ed vowels (and equivalent French and Dutch "u") and of course the Nordic ø.

There must be some environmental reason for this. Any ideas? Articles or references?

Does the same phenomenon appear in Slavic languages? The typical "-ić" termination in Serbian seems to be articulated a bit behind Russian "-ič".


 


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