usage of "legato" / "staccato" in phonetics and phonology

Reply Tue 9 Nov, 2010 03:01 pm
dear readers,

today i have felt a little dumbfounded when i discovered i could by no means uncover from my books or the internet any meaningful hints that the terms 'legato' and 'staccato' are used anywhere in phonetics or phonology.

i have been using these terms for many years to explain people a crucial difference in pronunciation that is quite obvious when comparing eg german and english: standard german is pretty staccato in that word-final consonants are mostly not carried over into a following vowel, whereas this is the standard in (most if not all) variants of english. korean is even much more pronouncedly legato; in addition to resyllabification, this language has quite a number of assimilatory effects.

all that i could discover were discussions on the 'intrusive r' in english and the famous french phenomenon of liaison.

so what are the correct / current / widely understood terms to describe this crucial difference between german and english pronunciation?

cheers for helping out.

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Reply Tue 9 Nov, 2010 04:42 pm
it depends on what you mean by staccato and legato.
If it is syllable length you might use heavy and light. If it is the voice in the plosive consonants, you might use fortis and lenis. If it is the stress on a syllable you might use heavily stress accented.
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Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2011 02:16 pm
Hello! I think there is something romantic in the usage of music terms (legato and staccato) in linguistics.
As for staccato pronounciation it means an abrupt way of pronounciation
As for legato it's a smooth way.
But to my mind to say that pronounciation of some language is abrupt and of other is smooth is mere a subjective opinion. For me, for instance, German pronounciation is not at all abrupt. Well, they use glottal stop when the word begins with a vowel and to somebody it may seem to sound abrupt, but I don't feel that way.
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