Most consonants in Lahu should not present a problem for English speakers. There are a few differences that should be noted.
The consonants in the Lahu language are listed in table below:
|c||as in ‘jaw’ (the unaspirated version of ‘ch’)|
|g’||a coarse ‘g’ or a throaty ‘r’ like in French, a fricative|
|j||same, often between a ‘y’ and ‘j’|
|k||as in ‘goat’ (like ‘ก’ in Thai)|
|hk||as in ‘cat’|
|k’||as in ‘coat’, at the back of the throat|
|hk’||as in ‘caught’ but further back in throat|
|ny||as it reads|
|p||as in ‘bat’, unaspirated p or b (like the Thai ‘บ’)|
|hp||as in ‘people’, aspirated|
|sh||same, often sounds like just ’s’|
|t||cross between ’d’ and ’t’ (like the Thai ‘ต’)|
|ht||as in ‘talk’|
|y||cross between a ‘y’ and ‘j’|
Aspirated & Unaspirated
As with many other languages in the area of South East Asia, there is a difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds. To appreciate the difference between them some have tried saying the sounds with their hand in front of their mouth. With an aspirated sound you should feel a puff of air against you hand. Unaspirated sounds should have no puff.
For example, the sounds made by the letters ‘p’, ‘t’ and ‘c’ in the words spar, star and scar are unaspirated and have no puff of air. In contrast, the sounds made by the letters ‘c’, ‘t’ and ‘p’ in the words car, tar and par are aspirated by the puff of air. It is essential that this difference in appreciated by the speaker and heard by the listener as it may change the meaning of many words.
These are sounds that are made by using the throat or the rear of the palate and are primarily made using friction rather than contact. Some letters require more fiction and some require more contact. These guttural sounds are often difficult for native English speakers to master and use fluently.
Another (perhaps more technical) way of representing the various consonants and their articulation is shown in table Lahu articulation.
- Bilabial: Using both lips
- Labiodental: Bottom lip and upper teeth
- Alveolar: Tongue on palate just behind teeth
- Alveoplatal: Tongue on palate
- Velar: Tongue at rear of palate
- Postvelar: Using the throat
- Unaspirated: No puff of air (see ‘Aspiration’)
- Aspirated: With a puff of air (see ‘Aspiration’)
- Voiced: Using the voice box
- Nasal: Using the nasal cavity
- Voiceless: No use of voice box
- Lateral: Using the side of the tongue