Another initial "vl"

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Fri Dec 28 18:57:18 UTC 2007

Good example of the article I recommended earlier. The /r/ in
"brtsq'in" is the nucleus of the first syllable, so brtsq is
definitely not a cluster. It syllabifies like this: br-tsq'in,


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>Subject:      Re: Another initial "vl"
>When in grad school in Berkeley I sang with a men's chorus called
>"Slavyanka" (an SF offshoot of the Yale Russian Chorus), singing Russian and
>other Slavic and other USSR music. I provided some advice on pronunciation,
>but for Georgian I wrote to my aunt, Dee Ann Holisky, who was one of the
>handful of Georganists in the US. Georgian has a thousand-year-old tradition
>of 3-part men's liturgical music, very beautiful and quite different from
>the more familiar Western European forms.
>One of our pieces was "Shen Xar" ("x" = voiceless velar fricative, IPA [x]),
>a hymn to the Virgin. I still remember most of it (tenor? baritone? part),
>especially the last line; in ASCII,
>     mze xar ga brtsq'in vebuli
>In the fourth word, "ts" is an alveolar affricate and "q'" is a uvular
>ejective. Dee wrote (paraphrasing) "You can drop the /r/ if you need to, but
>DO NOT insert a vowel in the cluster."
>Oh, and musically you can't attach the "b" to the preceding word. The "ga"
>is no way proclitic: it's a long melisma, about 3 seconds, and then
>"brtsq'in" has the downbeat.  :-)
>m a m
>On Dec 28, 2007 7:41 AM, Dennis Preston <preston at> wrote:
>>  As I suspected, many apparent clusters in Georgian (which has a rich
>>  inventory of clusters and does not need to be exaggerated) are not
>>  clusters at all. All sonorants (and /v/ is classified as one) ,
>>  including also  /m/, /n/, /r/, and /l/, can be syllable peaks. In
>>  fact, in certain environments an allophone of /v/ is a considerably
>>  reduced /w/-like rounding of a preceding consonant. Vowel epenthesis
>>  also breaks up many apparent clusters. Most of this rich consonant
>>  clustering comes about a a result of a rich affixing morphology and
>>  is not present in root morphemes.
>>  Go here
>>  for a thorough treatment.
>>  dInIs
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
preston at

The American Dialect Society -

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