Monday, March 02, 2015

Symposium On Non-Diacritical Specification of Automatapiic Representations of Rock and Roll

I'll have to set this up for you.  When we were very little kids, we didn’t really know what to call “Rock and Roll”, as it was distinctly absent in our house.  Practically the only times we ever heard it was when teenage babysitters babysat us and turned it on and turned it UP, man!

Apparently, we picked up on the backbeat, and we called the music … “Ooh-ba, soopa-ba, wah –wah –wah”  Which as you can see is difficult to convey the exact pronunciation without actually going to a sonic example.  The "wah" sounds, I believe, depicted guitar riffs.

So my brother Jeff emailed me this last night (presumably because he was trying to send an email to someone… perhaps even me ...) where it was to be mentioned.

From: Jeff Leith
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2015 7:01 AM
To: Phil Leith
Subject: Ok, for the sake of discussion...

How would I convey, in e-mail, and without using the dictionary-style phonetic symbols, how to pronounce:

Ooo pa thoopa-pa wah wah wah!!!

The trouble seems mostly with pa, conveying that the a sound is like cat. And does wah work, or should it be waugh?

- Jeff

Ok, here goes....

Historically in the context of my own linguistic studies on the subject – noting I have no external sources to cite, I have spelled it more along the lines of:

Oooh, bah, soopa-bah, wah-wah-wah.”

On the other hand, I have since come across related constructs in the area of music which suggest that “waugh” may, in fact, be the more proper spelling.

As is sometimes the case with  automatapiic phraseology, there may be discrepancies especially where similar consonant sounds are used to indicate a percussive sound,  it is entirely possible that “bah” and “pa” were carried along as independent lines of pronunciations that were for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable even at the time of the inception of the phrase with individuals propagating their own interpretation of the sound of a snare drum parallel to each other, perhaps even in the same room – without controversy – as the spirit of the backbeat itself was properly rendered in either case.

There is also the case of the “th” vs “s” divergence between the two primary schools of thought on the subject, where the third syllable is thüp under one interpretation, whereas it either started out as, or evolved into süp in an alternate elocution.
With that in mind, to convey phonetically without dictionary symbols the Jeffersonian branch of the pronunciation of the phrase would be:

/ü/ /pah/’ /süp-pə/ /pah/’ , /wa/ - /wa/ - /wa/

Whereas the Philipian school would only be the very slightly different:

/ü/ /bah/’ /süp-pə/ /bah/’ , /wa/ - /wa/ - /wa/
To delve in to the world of pronunciative representation of phonetic sound while eschewing the use of the diacritical, the whole point of diacritical phonetics being to have a standard, one should probably seek some sort of recognized standard for the use of the standard English alphabet (this because it is the language in the context of which the aforementioned is under discussion).

One such standard – and as long as we can refer to a well-defined standard which can be agreed upon between the parties having the discussion it doesn’t really matter – is the Respelling standard as defined in the largely crowd-sourced (though not without its own internal corruptions) Wikipedia.  We should note, however, that Respelling does still use the schwa symbol ə.
Using the respelling standard, our pronunciative translations would come out:

/oo/ /pah/’ /soop-pə/ /pah/’ , /wa/ - /wa/ - /wa/


/oo/ /bah/’ /soop-pə/ /bah/’ , /wa/ - /wa/ - /wa/

If we further agreed on the use of “uh” for the ə

/oo/ /pah/’ /soop-puh/ /pah/’ , /wa/ - /wa/ - /wa/


/oo/ /bah/’ /soop-puh/ /bah./’ , /wa/ - /wa/ - /wa/
-- again, respectively.

On a final point of discussion, it is unclear to me that the mere use of ü or oo  properly conveys the abrupt percussive stop to the sound of the first syllable (or even the a in the fifth syllable).  There should be some sort of stop symbol … such as I will propose by indication of a “period” using the Jeffersonian branch as an example:

/oo./ /pah/’ /thoop-puh/ /pah/’ , /wa/ - /wa/ - /wa/

If the goal of keeping away from symbols other than English Alphabetical Characters is of critical importance, we get into the difficult area of indicating the staccato by adding a character without violating the standard or changing the sound altogether.  The accents are critical, though, and it should be noted that the the first of the three wa s  should have more abrupt ending, but not quite as abrupt as the initial oo. , we may go to the use of a “,” to indicate that.   There may be a very slight additional pause between the second and third wa s which could be indicated by an extra hyphen, but we let the last two wa s come to a natural end.

So in the end, if we drop the slashes and replace the schwa with “uh”, leaving the accents in, we have:

oo. pah’ thoop-puh pah.’ , wa, - wa -- wa

If this analysis is insufficient, I propose a symposium on the matter.