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Humans (and, it would seem, Elves) come with a kind of buzzing device installed in their throats, namely the vocal chords. By making the vocal chords vibrate, one may add “voice” to the stream of air before it enters the speech organs proper. The presence or lack of such voicing is what distinguishes sounds like v vs. f. If one draws out a sound like ffff . . and suddenly turns it into vvvv. . instead, one will feel the “buzzer” in the throat kicking in (put a finger on your glottis – what in men is called the “Adam’s apple”, less protuberant in women – and you will actually feel the vibration of the vocal chords).

When pronouncing vowels, the stream of air is only modified (by means of devices like the ones just described). It is never actually “hindered”. In the case of the consonants, the air is however more actively obstructed. Thus, Tolkien can inform us that one early Elvish term for consonant was tapta tengw¨ e or just tapta, meaning “impeded element” or “impeded one” (VT39:7). In the most “extreme” cases the stream of air may even be completely halted for a moment: This is easily perceived in the case of a consonant like p, which is pronounced by bringing the lips into contact, momentarily cutting off the stream of air from the lungs and allowing a 40 pressure to build up inside the mouth.

Consonant clusters or double consonants are not normally found at the end of words, though they may occur if a final vowel drops out (is elided ) because the next word begins in the same or a similar vowel. Hence in LotR we have a “final” nn in the phrase l´ umenn’ omentielvo (“on the hour of our meeting”), but only because this is reduced from 43 l´ umenna omentielvo (this full form occurring in WJ:367 and Letters:424). g. ciryant “for a couple of ships”, formed from cirya “ship”. Tolkien’s earliest “Qenya” experiments, as recorded in the Qenya Lexicon of 1915, were more liberal in this respect.

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Are high-temperature superconductors exotic


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