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September 27, 2005

Autodisemvowelling
Posted by Teresa at 12:31 PM *

Thomas Hassan (TH) of Wos waas a Fremda? has devised a new autodisemvoweller:

In my copious spare time I also admin/host a few other blogs, among them a German political blog.

In that capacity I needed a good, discretionary and easy way to disemvowel inconsiderate guests. The current solutions didn’t satisfy me, so I rolled my own. Through judicious use of Brad Choate’s MTKeyValues plugin, and indiscrimate hacking of Bryant Durrell’s shrpshr plugin, I now have a solution to easily and non-destructively disemvowel individual comments.

If you want to use it or have a look, here it is:
disemvowel.tar.gz
Feel free to download and use.

As I understand it, the difference is that Brad Choate’s plugin disemvowels all comments coming from a specific IP address (or addresses), whereas TH’s new disemvoweller lets you discriminately zap individual comments.

If anyone’s interested (and really, I don’t presume to think they are), disemvowelling was born in the comment thread of this inoffensive post, as recorded in this comment. And boy, did he have it coming.

Comments on Autodisemvowelling:
#1 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:15 PM:

Now if somebody would just come up with an autoreemvoweller. Or am I the only one who likes to try to read the disemvowelled ones? Some of them are pretty slow going.

#2 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:26 PM:

I think re-emvowelling would be harder, just because you have so many words which look the same when disemvowelled. Ire, Ore, Are, and Ere, for example, all reduce to a single r when disemvowelled, as would Ear, Area, Urea, and Aerie. We can guess what something might be by the context, but the computer might spit strange sentences back at us that had nothing to do with the original subject.

(That said, occasionally, I want to know what had been said too.)

#3 ::: TH ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:27 PM:

It's TH (Thomas Hassan), not anything else. Brad's plugin lets you add arbitrary values that are not shown, and I use that by adding a line "depp=true" (idiot=true) at the beginning of a comment to be disemvowelled. That triggers the disemvowelment filter for that comment, while still retaining the original comment in the backend. (Which could be useful to have sometimes)

Glad you like it as an option. Nice finish to a day that started by getting fired...

#4 ::: TH ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:30 PM:

Oh, and I didn't want to sound pissy on the name thing. Sometimes I miss nuances in english.

#5 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:52 PM:

Good point, PiscusFiche, and I do see the problem, but I can visualize something that would fill in the more obvious words and give, say, drop-down menus for the words that have multiple possibilities. And those could be ordered by frequency or, if the program was pretty sophisticated, by potential relevance.

But really, I suppose an automatic process would spoil half the fun of trying to puzzle it out.

Speaking of puzzlers: what word has seven letters and four syllables but only two consonants?

I suppose there have to be multiple answers to this, but I heard a particular word on the radio recently and it occurred to me that that's a lot of syllables for just two consonants.

#6 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 01:58 PM:

Aureola springs to mind.

#7 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:02 PM:

I also like words that have all five vowels in them, like sequoia, and facetious. (Facetiously if you want "and sometimes y." It also has them all in alphabetical order.)

#8 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:05 PM:

Joy: Well, there's Suoidea, the clade that includes pigs and peccaries, which is also notable for having all five vowels in reverse order.

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:19 PM:

I've often wondered how disemvoweling was done. Thanks to the pointer to the original occurrence, now I know. I'll never have any use for it, since my posts are in no danger of attracting trolls, but learning the process is fun.

#10 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:35 PM:

I wish someone would make this into a web form application. Something like this ROT-13 decoder would be ideal. I've used disemvowelling to good effect on my blog, but I have to do it manually.

I might have to hack it myself, but I've never done anything quite like that...

#11 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 02:42 PM:

Th nxt lgcl dvlpmnt f ths prtclr Bttr Mstrp s DV-Rdstrbtr, whch wll xprt th hrvstd vwls t ths lngge, mny n rpdly dvlpng st rpn cntrs, tht hv lng bn ndrsppld thrwth. (Th fct tht mny f ths ppltns hv hstr f xtrml clrfl nvctv m nt b nrltd.)

f cn rd ths cn gt gd jb s frlnc rvwltr.

#12 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:03 PM:

Paideia, the education of the angels of our better nature.

#13 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:04 PM:

Whoops, is that three syllables or four? Now I think it's three. Attic Greek is not my strong suit.

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:08 PM:

st rpn cntrs

What kind of centers? I'm not emvowelling very well today. (No, I won't be going for frelance revowelitor!)

#15 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:11 PM:

Not being able, on LJ, to effectively disemvowell is a thing I dislike about it.

But it's where I hang my hat, so I make do with what I have.

#16 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:14 PM:

Jhn M. Frd

How much does a freelance revowelitor make?

#17 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:27 PM:

actually I thought the next logical development was to have a competition to see who could get disemvowelled quickest.

#18 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:37 PM:

From the original disemvoweled thread:

It was one of those perfectly intoxicating ideas that just materializes, with no antecedent thought processes. You know--the kind that Patrick usually talks me out of, either for my own good, or from some qualm involving legal codes or the local infrastructure.

I read it and thought "sounds like me." After I stopped laughing, I read it to Jim, and he said "sounds like you, dear." I've learned to forget to tell Jim about things involving the legal code, and he won't drive with me unless he's driving because of qualms involving the local infrastructure. Actually, mostly the structure of SUVs who forget I exist. (How anybody can miss a 1985 Chevy Caprice land yacht is beyond me, but they try, hehehe, yes, they try.) (And then they remember I'm steel and they're fiberglass.) (Jim especially won't drive with me because of the argument I had with an SUV at Christmas. I knew it would stop before it hit me, as the brain-dead driver wasn't going that fast. However, Jim was sitting on the side it would have hit, and was not a happy camper. I can't imaging why.)

#19 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:38 PM:

PJ: "East European countries."

Michelle: let's put it this way -- you should hope that Trader Joe's has a sale on Vowel Helper, preferably in a variety of flavors. (Tofu-Cola gets old fast.)

#20 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 03:43 PM:

OK, but what kind? Like I said, I'm not emvowelling really well today. maybe I need to make a run by TJ's this weekend for some Vowel Helper. (The parking lots are a pain, and my local is worse than most of them. Weekends I can maybe get in before the crowd of SUVs arrives.)

Lin: I hope your imagination is better than your imaging. Or something. Was someone on the scanner again?

#21 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 04:57 PM:


the someone on the scanner
- for those who might have wondered. My furry fiend.

#22 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 04:58 PM:

Skwid -

I've got a ROT-13 bookmarklet I created; all you do is highlight the text on the page, click the bookmarklet, and a new window pops up with the changed version in copyable text.

It'd be simple to make a disemvoweling version of that. Let me know if you want either.

#23 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 05:39 PM:

Shouldn't that be "rpdly", not "rply"?

#24 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 06:07 PM:

LOL P J, when I got a flat monitor, the cats moved right over to the all-in-one.

Have I shown you guys the cat furniture I ordered:

http://www.playtimeworkshop.com/Castle.htm

#25 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 07:25 PM:

How much does a freelance revowelitor make?

Minimum wage, but you get to take home any vowels that that fall on the floor.

#26 ::: Bryant ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 08:57 PM:

Yay! About time someone improved on my effort. *grin*

#27 ::: Keith Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 09:10 PM:

Many years ago, I came up with something that might be an alternative to disemvowelment. The result is a bit easier to read (which is not always a good thing), and it's easily reversible. I suppose you could call it the Great Vowel Shift Filter. Each vowel is translated to the next vowel in the alphabet, and 'u' is translated back to 'a'.

For Unix-like systems:

tr aeiouAEIOU eiouaEIOUA < infile > outfile

Amusingly, the command still works after you run it through itself.

Bork Bork Bork!

========================================

Meny yiers egu, O cemi ap woth sumithong thet moght bi en eltirnetovi tu dosimvuwilmint. Thi risalt os e bot iesoir tu ried (whoch os nut elweys e guud thong), end ot's iesoly rivirsobli. O sappusi yua cuald cell ot thi Griet Vuwil Shoft Foltir. Iech vuwil os trensletid tu thi nixt vuwil on thi elphebit, end 'a' os trensletid beck tu 'e'.

Fur Anox-loki systims:

tr eiouaEIOUA iouaeIOUAE < onfoli > uatfoli

Emasongly, thi cummend stoll wurks eftir yua ran ot thruagh otsilf.

Burk Burk Burk!

#28 ::: Tick Tock ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2005, 11:26 PM:

What kind of sick individual takes a person's vowels? That's totally humilating!

#29 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 12:19 AM:

Joy, to my mind it must always be possible to read the disemvowelled comments. That's why I've stopped removing y-used-as-a-vowel. The effect of taking it out varies with the words used, and the coherence of the writer's style, but it can render a disemvowelled comment truly unreadable.

PFiche, revowelling must by definition be more difficult. Disemvowelling destroys information. Revowelling has to reconstruct it.

TH, I have altered the original post, so you now have your proper name. Sorry about that.

Linkmeister, I've used a number of different methods for disemvowelling, none of them automated. If I'm furious, or if no other method is available, I'll just type it out. When I have access to BBEdit, I use Avram Grumer's search string "[aeiouAEIOU]" in the "find" box, and nothing in the "replace with" box.

Skwid, who were those disemvowelled jerks?

Mk, tht'd b lk "Clntn rlfts vwls t Bsn?"

#30 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 01:05 AM:

Wow, Dori. That'd be awesome, I'd love both!

Teresa, they were a pretty average pack of low-grade internet performance artist types. Your basic, garden variety trolls. One of the regulars on the forum they hang out on was pissed at the person who posted the first comment on that thread. He and his buddies assumed my blog was that person's, and they attempted to lash out.

Joining their forum (referrer logs are a beautiful thing) and showing I could give better than they could dish out (and cluing them in that their quarry lurked elsewhere) helped them lose interest in a relatively short time.

I've been leaving the "y as a consonant" instances intact but removing the vowels entire...leaving them all in seems like it would be a bit much.

And "Clntn rlfts vwls t Bsn" is one of my favorites, although "Sct Fr Crtv nchrnsm Szs Cntrl f Rss" will always be nearest and dearest to my heart.

#31 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 03:05 AM:

Speaking of things close to one's heart; s ths th plc fr   lnk t th t-shrt, bmpr stckr, tc "ll yr vwl r blng t s"?

In my work I've recently had to deal with a large batch of case reports of people appealing against decisions by the Immigration Department to deport them. It was a growth industry at one stage. Their names have been 'anonymized', and it looks like either the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia or the Department is using a system of 5 letters, giving them a theoretical number of 13,252,304 cases of MZWIK or SZDTC, etc v Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs, if my calculations are correct.

I keep trying to re-emvowel them.

#32 ::: ketsugi ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 04:18 AM:

If you really wanted to make the vowels reappear on command, perhaps what should be done, as TH mentioned, keep the original full comment in the backend/database, and have the plugin hide the vowels using CSS. For example:

"This is a sample sentence."

When disemvoweled, might be rendered as

"Th<span class="dsmvwl">i</span>s <span class="dsmvwl">i</span>s <span class="dsmvwl">a</span> s<span class="dsmvwl">a</span>mpl<span class="dsmvwl">e</span> s<span class="dsmvwl">e</span>nt<span class="dsmvwl">e</span>nc<span class="dsmvwl">e</span>."

Then using have a CSS definition for:

.dsmwwl {
display: none;
}

And then use Javascript to change the .dsmvwl's CSS definition to

.dsmvwl {
display:inline;
}

when clicking on a "Toggle disemvoweling" link or some such.

Seems like a fairly simple thing to do; I think maybe I'll go code a plugin for Nucleus CMS to enable this. Whee!

#33 ::: TH ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 05:30 AM:

Teresa, thanks for the correction.

I just wonder how you arrived at that specific name. Scorpio of Eccentricity links to me, but that's just about all of a connection.

Oh and ketsugi, the CSS method is ingenious, but it adds a lot of bytes, which in a heated thread may really eat bandwidth. (And of course, I want to keep the offending comment intact for reference, but don't want it easily reconstructable by clicking on a link.)

#34 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 07:44 AM:

I think it's important to remember that it was Arthur Hlavaty who came up with the word 'disemvowelling'. It's very rare that a specific person can be credited with creating a word in widespread use.

#35 ::: Zoe ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 08:31 AM:

Clinton's been on the case for ages. This is originally from the Onion but for some reason I can't find it there now.

#36 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 09:13 AM:

I've always thought there was a cool balance in the world. The Slavs had all the consonants and the Polynesians had all the vowels. If this is true, by shipping vowels to the Slavs, the Polynesians will lose vowels, thus rendering them totally incomprehensible.

Further research needs to be done to validate Lin Daniel's Rule of Conservation of Letters.

#37 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 10:20 AM:

The trouble with "aureola" and "Suoidea" is, who uses them in a blog comment? What are the best words from genuine disemvowelled posts? Greg Ioannou's surname, from this thread, was a good one.

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 10:27 AM:

Hah! All of people, you Bush bashing America haters, should go back to Suoidea and take your aureolae with you!

#39 ::: ketsugi ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 10:32 AM:

@TH: Well, the (better) alternative would be to include both disemvoweled and emvoweled versions of the comment in the HTML source, with the emvoweled version hidden via CSS, and a Javascript link to toggle the disemvoweled version to hidden and the emvoweled version to visible in one fell swoop. That's a much better implementation of my idea.

However, perhaps I'm missing something: what precisely is the purpose of disemvoweling? I thought it was to obfuscate an offensive comment so that it was not easily readable by anyone skimming through comments. The reason I suggested a re-emvowel link was so that readers who did want to follow the entire discussion would be able to activate the comment and read it. For example, looking at the thread that Theresa linked to in the original post, it is very difficult to read any of the disemvoweled posts, and I no longer have any idea what it is that Phillip guy said that's so offensive.

#40 ::: TH ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 11:04 AM:

I think the point of disemvowelling is to humiliate idiots so they don't come back. For that, nobody needs the emvowelled comment.

But I might be wrong. I often am.

#41 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 11:11 AM:

PiscusFiche & Ellen, Aureola is a great word! And I love the vowels-in-order game. I don't think I've ever seen or heard Suoidea, but Googling it led me to a bunch of fun word sites. The word I was thinking of was evacuee.

One of the sites I found had the following two sentences, which looked, at least at first glance, to be disemvowelled.

"Strch prst skrz krk" and "Bydd y cyllyll yn y cwpwrdd wrth y bwrdd."

Of course, they turned out to be Czech (in which r is a vowel; translation: "Put your finger through your throat") and Welsh (translation: "The knives will be in the cupboard by the table"). Anyone else see a trend? I think Teresa's hitting on disemvowelling verbally violent commenters was truly inspired.

#42 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 11:14 AM:

I think that part of the point of disemvowelling is to spare the other readers and commenters from having to see the disemvowelled material. Note that regular posters here are occasionally disemvowelled when they lose their tempers in certain ways.

#43 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 12:05 PM:

"ll yr vwl r blng t s"

"all your vowel are belong to us"?
Nitpick: shouldn't it be
"ll yr vwls blng t s"

I have far too much time, having far too little QC in my in-basket.

#44 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 12:11 PM:

Joy Freeman found these online:

"Strch prst skrz krk" and "Bydd y cyllyll yn y cwpwrdd wrth y bwrdd."

Of course, they turned out to be Czech (in which r is a vowel; translation: "Put your finger through your throat")


Joy,

Are you sure that's Czech? It looks Slovak to me, although it's hard to tell without any mekc'en.

I bring this up because it's one of my pet peeves: non-Central Europeans assume that Czech covers everything from the former Czechoslovakia. (I've seen even reputable biographies of Andy Warhol, for instance, refer to his Czech roots, and to the fact that his mother never learned English and only spoke Czech.) There is a huge difference, in history, geography and outlook.

It's possible your on-line source was correct, but there's at least a 50% chance that what we have here is what the (Czech) author Jozef S'kvorecky refers to as "pure, melodious Slovak."

(Also, in Czech, Slovak and Polish, R and L are semi-vowels, not full vowels.)

#45 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 01:38 PM:

I'm pretty sure the first one is Czech. I learned it from my Slavic Linguistics professor, as an example of a complete sentence with no vowels (because no, /r/ is not a vowel in ANY language). It and /l/ are liquids, technically. But who's counting?

The second one looks like Welsh, but that's a (slightly educated) guess.

P J Evans, you're missing a literary reference. It is indeed "ll yr vwls r blng t s."

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 01:43 PM:

Christopher, the second one is Welsh - I recognize enough of it to say that.

I don't know that literary reference. Possibly I'm illiterate?

#47 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 01:52 PM:

This all reminds me of this letter to the Register

"At first I thought it was in a different language, but it does not look like any kind of language."

#48 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 02:06 PM:

Juli, I Googled the phrase and found it referred to as Czech on most sites that came up. However, I did find one site that claimed the phrase is the same in both languages.

I also learned it's referring to one sticking one's own finger down one's own throat, when I had previously been visualizing a self-defense move rather than a gagging gesture. Heh.

Xopher, yes the second is Welsh, as I said (amidst too many parenthetical phrases--a weakness of mine) in my comment. Here's the original site where I found both phrases.

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 02:45 PM:

Eric: I am now enlightened, or something. (What I get for not playing that kind of game.)

Must be the same translator who gave my disk drive a flag cable.

#51 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 04:21 PM:

PJ, very few people actually played the game. I'd never heard of it before I saw the video, and I very definitely *did* play that sort of game.

BTW, the spelling in Epacris' link (and on the merch) is, of course, correct, given that in the original it is "base" not "bases."

#52 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 04:43 PM:

Joy - For a second there, I thought you were confusing Slovak and Slovene! I'm glad to see that a native speaker had the same reaction I did. We'll also call it federal, OK?

Xopher - I think "semi-vowel" is another way of saying "liquid." Depends on the terminology, I think, as I've heard both. If my memory is correct, I've usually heard "liquid" used to refer to the characteristics of the sound made by the letter, and "semi-vowel" used to refer to the way the letter functions in the language. But I'm not actually a linguist, so I could be wrong.


#53 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 05:41 PM:

Skwid - I don't know what browser you use, and bookmarklets (aka favelets) often have to be changed slightly to work with particular browsers. Given that, here's what I've got that works in Safari:

ROT-13

Disemvowel

Don't try clicking on the links; that's not how they work.

If I'm having a good day, and if you're using Safari, you should be able to just drag those to the bookmarks bar. If you're using some other browser, tell me what it is and I'll see what I can do.

Of course, this is for anyone to use who wants it, not just Skwid.

#54 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 05:56 PM:

Dori, they both work a treat on Firefox on Mac. Thanks!

#55 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 06:07 PM:

Just once I'd like to see a troll being rendered inconsonant. It was so entertaining when E.Nesbit made the Ugly-Wuglies speak.

#56 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2005, 06:31 PM:

Having explained "disemvoweled" to my mother and then became seriously concerned for her heart as she couldn't draw breath from laughing, I don't know if I can then explain "inconsonant" without first sending her for a physical.

I also remember her ROFLMAO reaction to "dead dog party." I'd been using it for so long, I'd forgotten it was not used in mundane conversation.

#57 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 04:51 AM:

@TH: I think the only time we had to disemvowel in a larger scale yet (on that political blog mentioned above), it showed another big advantage compared to deleting troll spam. Our particular Troll had the nasty habit of pretending that all his "important political comments" had been deleted because they did not fit the political opinions of a given blog. It is rather hard to prove that you didn't censor a comment for political reasons but for reasons of netiquette, if the comment doesn't exist anymore. Comments which are only disemvowelled can still be identified for what they are, ranting spam usually.

#58 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 07:18 AM:

"Bydd y cyllyll yn y cwpwrdd wrth y bwrdd."

Welsh-disemvowelling this yields "Bdd cllll n cprdd rth bdd". I particularly like the four consecutive l's.

#59 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2005, 11:49 AM:

Any success in coming up with sentences that can be reemvowelled in more than one way? I couldn't do much better than

Aspic, the final fontier
Spice, the finial furniture

and stuff like that.

#60 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2005, 11:04 AM:

My laptop is a Mac running OS X, and, sadly, there are no encheferizers that run natively under OS X--nobody has ported any of the Unix or Linux versions over, and I hate to use OS 9 just for a paragraph or two. This sucks.

AnD tHeRe Do NoT sEeM tO bE aNy PsYcHo ChIcKeN fIlTeRs OuTsIdE oF tHe OlD cIt. BbS cOdE. i HaVe To bE aNnOyInG bY hAnD.

#61 ::: Karl Kindred ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 01:51 PM:

Dori,

As a diehard mac user let me just say:

y r th mn (nlss y r th wmn).

#62 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 02:33 PM:

Xopher - I think "semi-vowel" is another way of saying "liquid." Depends on the terminology, I think, as I've heard both. If my memory is correct, I've usually heard "liquid" used to refer to the characteristics of the sound made by the letter, and "semi-vowel" used to refer to the way the letter functions in the language. But I'm not actually a linguist, so I could be wrong.

Not quite. /y/ and /w/ are semivowels...that is, they're vowels reduced to the status of consonants. /r/ and /l/, at least in most dialects of English, are liquids...they're consonants, but with some vocalic characteristics. The difference, IIRC, is the position of the tongue: in true vowels and semivowels, it can be high or low, front or back, but it's held more or less flat; air comes over the whole thing, from teeth to teeth. In the liquids the tongue is up there getting in the way and making shapes. In /l/, for example, it's against the roof of the mouth, and air escapes only over the sides.

I'm speaking of these sounds as they occur before vowels, of course. At the ends of syllables they both do odd things, especially in UK English.

I was incorrect, btw, to call /r/ a liquid with regard to Czech. It's a voiced apical trill in Czech. And that's even farther from being a vowel.

#63 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2005, 03:13 PM:

I had forgotten about this thread until I hit some ROT-13 over in Open Thread 51. Dori, you rock all the way up and down the block! Thanks!

#64 ::: David Goldfarb notes likely comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 03:53 AM:

Anything with "drugs" in the URL raises my suspicions.

#65 ::: TH ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2008, 08:17 AM:

I've updated the auto-disemvoweller.

If you use Movable Type 4.x, you can disemvowel (and re-emvowel) directly as an action on your comment screen.

It's here: http://hacks.grendel.at/disemvowel/. Let me know if you use it.

#66 ::: Mary Aileen sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2011, 08:49 PM:

What language is #66, anyway?

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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