Do you regard the two approximants /j/ and /w/ as consonents?

Paul M   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 08:01 GMT
I know they are supposed to be "consonents" but are they really pronounced as one..? Do you 'in your head' really treat the sounds as a consonent when you speak? I'm asking this because.. in Korean, /j/ and /w/ are combined with simple vowels to make another vowels (but still regarded as one sound and can be mixed with consonents..)

Do /j/ and /w/ have real sound themselves?
Aren't they just 'there' in writing so you can approximately represent the actual variant vowel sounds existing in speech?

It seems to me that those two sounds, when followed by a vowel, seem like just change the sound character of the following vowel, but doesn't have consonent(istic) sound themselves.

What I mean by that is..
Take the word 'few' /fju:/ for instance.
Is /fj/ a real sound? Do you treat /fj/ as two consonents cluster when you actually speak.

1. Since both /f/ and /j/ are consonents, would you pronounce /f/ then /ju:/ as you do in 'from'.. /f/ then /rom/.

But it doesn't sound like that to me..
2. 'Few', to me, sounds lile it's regarded by the speaker as one consonent /f/ then a vowel /ju:/ and produce the one syllable sound /fju:/

Is it pronounced as '1' but only sounds like '2' because it's pronounced quite fast and I don't have the ear for it yet..
[j] and [w]   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 10:04 GMT
[j] and [w] are consonants.
Simon   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 10:46 GMT
You're never going to have a series of phonemes whose value is 100% constant. Sounds sound different depending on what precedes and follows them. The mouth is always moving from one position to another. So, I would say that there are too consonants in "few". fju:, as you said.
English   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 20:25 GMT
[w] and [j] are sometimes called ''semivowels'' by linguists. But they're consonant sounds.
Paul M   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 20:51 GMT
I'm sorry that my first post was a mess and wasn't very clear about what I was asking.. I apologise for that.

Now, I'm well aware of that they are in fact consonents, I was not asking whether they are classified as consonents or not, I was merely asking how you, as a native speaker pronounce a word with /j/ /w/ sounds in it, or rather the order you pronounce the consonents vowel combination..

When I say 'few', I say /fju:/ in one easy mouth movement.
But this can't be right.. how can I pronounce a two consonents cluster /fj/ without altering any mouth or tongue position change, like you do when you pronounce /fr/ for the word 'from'?

In my point of view, /j/ isn't even a sound when it's on its own.. so /fj/ doesn't make much sense but /ju:/ does..
This is because I'm so used to /j/ /w/ being vowels in my native language..

This makes it hard because your brain doen't allow the concept of /j/ /w/ being consonents no matter what you tell yourself.

So, I was wondering if I should say /f/ after THEN /ju:/ so it sounds more like a word with a two consonent know the /f/ producing its own vowless sound and /ju:/ can make their own sound without influenced by /f/ (just like you do in from', /f/ then /rom/!)
Is this right..? Somebody please help..
English   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 20:53 GMT
Paul, it's ''consonant'' not ''consonent''.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 22:25 GMT
Paul, when I practice with your examples, both /fj/ and /fr/ both involve a slight movement. For me, to produce /fj/ requires a slight movment of the tongue, lips, and upper teeth.
Jim   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 23:35 GMT
It all depends on how the words "consonant" and "vowel" are being defined and used. I'll get back to you on that but in one sense they are consonants and in another sense they're not.
Paul M   Thursday, May 06, 2004, 05:29 GMT
oops..sorry. Consonant..
Thanks Dulcinea for that clarification, now I think I know what to aim at..
And thanks Jim, I'll be eagerly waiting for your reply. :)
Jim   Thursday, May 06, 2004, 07:48 GMT
I'll have to get back you on it: I've got to do a bit of digging around to find some good links (I've got to get going again too) but here a breif explanation of what I'm on about. It's a question of phonetics verses phonology. Phonology is language-specific whereas phonetics cuts across all languages. Phonetically they are a bit of a boarderline case but in the phonologic structure of English they act as consonants. This is why everyone here insists that they are consonants: in the structure of the language that is precicely how they are used. But how something is used and what it is can be two different things. What they are phonetically can be a bit hard to pin-point ... or maybe I've just got more to read on the subject. On the IPA chart they seem to be listed as consonants but I've read that according to one linguist's definition they've been classed as vowelsin the phonetic sense.
Jim   Friday, May 07, 2004, 05:35 GMT
Paul M   Friday, May 07, 2004, 09:48 GMT
Thanks a heaps for the links Jim. I really appreciate your help.
I think it might take some time for me to digest the materials though :)
Willy   Friday, May 07, 2004, 10:42 GMT
Jam, are you crazy?
[j] and [w]   Sunday, May 09, 2004, 00:54 GMT
Paul M asked if [j] and [w] are real sounds. He said that he thought [fj] alone doesn't make sense.
Jim   Monday, May 10, 2004, 04:02 GMT

Who's Jam and why do you think that Jam may be crazy?