palatal assimilation in "mit jelent"

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sumelic

Senior Member
English - California
Sziasztok.

I'm just starting to learn Hungarian, and I was studying the full palatal assimilation. From what I understand, this affects tj, dj, nj, lj and tyj, gyj, nyj, lyj, making them sound like tty, gyy, nny, jj respectively. I've heard that it is obligatory within a word. My question is, does this also happen across different words; for example, does the phrase "mit jelent" sound like "mittyelent"? If so, is this obligatory or optional? My main source of information on this so far has been the Wikipedia article on Hungarian phonology.

Köszönöm!
 
  • Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hello sumelic,

    As far as I can tell, it (= palatal assimilation) works even in the case you mention.
    As to it being "obligatory" or "optional": I would say neither...

    It is obligatory not to write the assimilated form but for the pronunciation..., I would say, there is only "practice" (See also osemnais thread.):
    Either it is not used:

    If it is "spellt out" (for showing how to pronouce a word or an expression), there is no assimilation because we make a conscious effort to make the word sound as "clear" as possible. (At the same time it allows to know how the word is spellt.) It obviously involves a special situation. If it is used outside that, the person sounds pedantic and wrong. (It may happen when somebody doesn't know that it is not a mistake to pronounce the assimilated form and that it does not betray a lack of instruction if you do apply it. Non native speakers are allowed to do this and they won't look "thick", on the contrary, they give the impression of wanting to "do their best" which is positive and to be appreciated even if it is "wrong".)

    or used:
    In everyday, normal speech (and speed), it appears and it "should": this is how one speaks "naturally" (as opposed to "artificially": to be avoided in Hungarian). On these occasions, however, you are sure your listener will understand normal, everyday speech and e.g. does not need help in understanding what you are saying.
    So as to be able to speak fluently and naturally, maybe one could say it is "obligatory" but I still can't help using the inverted commas because "real obligatory" seems just a step further than this.

    N.B. Native speakers may hear a difference between the asssimilated sound and the same being part of a word (as it should be spellt) to the extent of, sometimes, not being capable of recognizing that assimilation has taken place. Especially if the sound in question is "weak".
    The "ty" here is not much weaker though than in a normal word, like tyúk, however, the partially assimilated /sh/ sound instead of the written "sz" in osemnais's halászcsárda was not easy to hear, it was much "weaker" than the /sh/ in a normal word like s.
    Also the partial assimilation you mention is really a "classic" in Hungarian grammar, it is taught at school, so native speakers are more aware of it.

    I suppose it is a bit like "this year" pronounced in English in the sense that you can pronounce it slowly with the /s/ and the /j/ separately and in faster (+...) speech, the (partial) assimilation (/sh/+/j/) takes place.
     
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    sumelic

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Köszönöm szépen Zsanna!
    I suspected there might be assimilation here, but I was not quite sure, so thank you for the reassurance. What you say about pronouncing the sounds separately to show the spelling or to show how to pronounce each individual word makes sense, and I see why you might not want to say that the assimilation is truly "obligatory", although it sounds like it is something to aim for normally in order to sound natural. Regardless, it's good to know that even if I sometimes forget to assimilate these sounds, I will still be understood!
     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    As far as I can tell, it (= palatal assimilation) works even in the case you mention.
    Really? As a foreign speaker I've always thought that the two tj's in a word like átjártatja* are pronounced differently, the second one with full assimilation, the first one with just a slight palatalization on the t, not very different from the aspiration in the English word ‘tip’: átjártattya. Am I wrong?

    * Or átjáratja, whatever. I'm never sure.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    ... Am I wrong?
    As we spontaneously analyze átjáratja as a compound word, we tend to think that in case of the first tj we pronounce it close to t+j and not ty. However, exact measurements could show what we really pronounce (when speaking fluently, not slowly or very carefully, it's probably ty, in spite of what we think).
     
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    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I think the pronunciation of mit jelent is hard to pinpoint, as ty itself is not always the same, ranging from a plosive to an affricate. I mean that even a t+j realization can get pretty close to a ty because ty is rarely a pure palatal stop. Gy is even worse, as it can become a fricative [ʝ] sometimes.
     
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    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I am really not an expert in this but it seems to me that in the case of átjártatja (or átjáratja - no difference for me from this point of view) there are several possibilities.

    Either the first "tj" is pronounced as it is (for me it sounds "educated"), or close to t+ty ("normal") or just ty ("népies" something like "countryside-y").

    Meanwhile the second "tj" could not stay as such without sounding really artificial/false. The only thing I cannot decide is about how much it becomes a t+ty or just ty (without any influence on the speaking style).

    I think there are rules/regularities about how the pronunciation of a sound can change according to its place within a word (but it was long ago that I learnt about it and I was never too keen on that part of linguistics, in any case...).

    I was talking about partial assimilation previously because it is the case when the e.g. "t" stays but the "j" becomes a ty.
     
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    franknagy

    Senior Member
    átjáratja

    The first tj is an accidental meeting of t and j because the "igekötő" át- ends with t, and the verb "jár" starts with "j" sound.

    The second tj is a frequent case of verb ...t and and -ja ending of third person singular "Tárgyas ragozás".

    If we consider that same sounds meet then they should be pronounced the same way.
    But: the speaker holds the "át-" sensible, so he/she does not allow the full palatal assimilation.
    The verb ...t and and -ja ending was written before the victory of Kazinczy's jottism with -tty! (I.e before the 19th century.)
     
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