[tlhIngan Hol] Maltz about {H}

Lieven levinius at gmx.de
Mon Nov 7 02:21:00 PST 2016

There are frequent arguements about how to prounounce Klingon H. 
Comparing sound examples from Wikipedia with words spoken on the tapes 
are more confusing than helpful. The main question was: Is H velar [x] 
or uvular [X]?

Marc Okrand has a clear answer to this, but does understand that many 
people pronounce that different anyway:

---begin quote---
H is supposed to be velar [x].

Your description of gh is correct: "Almost the same as H but voiced." H 
is a voiceless velar fricative; gh is a voiced velar fricative. You're 
also right that H is "very strong." q is a uvular stop; Q is a uvular 
affricate. (There is no velar stop or uvular fricative.)

Since the H sound does not occur in English (and since I don't use IPA 
in TKD), I was looking for a way to describe the sound that would help 
English speakers get it right or nearly right.  I came up with the 
example words Bach, l'chaim (Yiddish), and Tijuana and Baja (Spanish), 
hoping readers would have heard these words pronounced in the language 
the words were from or something close to that (as opposed to Anglicized 
[bɑk], [tijǝwɑnǝ], [bɑhɑ], for example). Technically, I suppose, these 
were not great examples because, in any given language, there are 
different ways to pronounce this sound (actually, I should say "phoneme" 
rather than "sound").
In Spanish, for instance, the sound written with a "j", that I wanted to 
liken to a Klingon H, is sometimes velar, sometimes more palatal, and 
sometimes more uvular, depending on dialect, surrounding vowels, etc. 
As I understand it, in German (or at least in some dialects of German), 
the sound written ch may be [ç] (a palatal fricative), [X], or [x], 
depending on where it falls in the word and/or the preceding vowel. So 
it's understandable that there may be disagreement about what H is 
supposed to be.
As I say, the idea was to get English speakers to get it more or less 
right from a written, nontechnical description.

Also, as I think I've mentioned in the past, one of the things I was 
thinking about when writing TKD was making it, sometimes, a parody of 
those language books that have only suggestions of pronunciations and 
dictionaries that have ambiguous meanings for words.

- Marc
---end quote---

Lieven L. Litaer
aka Quvar valer 'utlh
Grammarian of the KLI

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