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David Marjanović
word-initial vowels in European languages are automatically preceded by a glottal stop

...Probably it works like that in Dutch. But it's not widespread. In northern German, a glottal stop automatically precedes stressed vowel-initial syllables, with no regard for word boundaries: [ˌʔ]Astero[ˈʔ]iden und Ko[ˈ]meten. In southern German, glottal stops are strictly utterance-initial = postpausal. In French, they're optional even there. English surely varies widely, but there are people who don't even use utterance-initial glottal stops and use [m] or [ŋ] instead. Parts of Polish are at the other extreme and insert a glottal stop into every vowel cluster regardless of stress or word boundaries.

Fun fact: Arapaho uses automatic [h] before word-initial vowels. Or so I've read.

Arno Schmitt

"as أنا consistently has a small circle on top of the second ʾalif to indicate that it is not pronounced." is not correct. 1.) When the shortening is obvious as before two vowelless consonants there is no sign above the second alif, and there never is a circle (with means: never pronounce!) but an O (elliptical) with means: pronounce only when pausing here.


That's correct! But it was something that I assumed would be understood implicitly. I did not want to have this post, which is about transcribing Classical Arabic to have a huge digression on the specificities of the orthography of modern printed muṣḥafs.


@David: Good points (and yes it is like that i Dutch). Still, for some reason you see that European transcribers are very quick to drop word-initial glottal stops in transcriptions of languages even if it is phonemic there. What do you think triggers that then?

Also: word-initial [m] or [ŋ] in English sounds wild. Where do they do that? And do you have any example of it?


Word-initial [m] or [ŋ]: There's "Mmmmkay", but it's hardly productive...

David Marjanović
What do you think triggers that then?

Simple laziness, furthered by reluctance to believe that glottal stops could be phonemic word-initially.

Word-initial [ŋ]: Larry Trask once said on the Linguist List that he "might" do that, in a discussion of Nganasan where that is universal even on 20th-century Russian loans. IIRC, one or two other people said similar things.

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