Law of vocal harmony
Posted: 26 May 2008 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Can anyone explain what this is? I came across the phrase on the Jack Vance board in a reference to the Turkish language:

The Hungarian grammar is quite similar to Finnish (or so I am told), with 15 cases and suffixes, but it seems that Hungarian has more words in common with Turkish than with Finnish, and there is also the law of vocal harmony in Hungarian, which exists also in Turkish (again, so I am told, I do not speak a word of Turkish).

Googling provided other hints but nothing that really explained the principle.

Another typical aspect of Turkish is the vocal harmony, compare for instance evlerinizdeyiz wtih parklar(i)n(i)zday(i)z, meaning we are in your parks. 

NB I’ve bracketed the i letters in the second word as they came up as question marks. See link for original symbols.

Plus, according to the vocal harmony rule in Turkish, it is possibel (sic) to guess if a word is actually Turkish or a loan word.

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Of these phenomena, the most important is the vocal-harmony system found in many of these languages that is the ancestor of the so-called Ablaut variations of vowels in Indo-European, still seen in English in such contrasts as “come”/”came.”

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Posted: 26 May 2008 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Just a note on nomenclature.

I think (I deny any expertise) that the expression “vocal harmony” in English usually refers to music.

I think the topic addressed here is usually called “vowel harmony” in English. But the poster is perhaps not a native English-speaker ... there are equivalents such as “Vokalharmonie” (German) (corresponding to German “Vokal” = “vowel").

As usual, one can start with Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel_harmony

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Posted: 26 May 2008 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thank you, Douglas. That’s why I couldn’t find anything!

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