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By Akira Hirakawa

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Example text

The retroflex series are written in the native Lepcha orthography as ; kr for /tr/, è; hr for /thr/ and à; gr for /dr/. In Lepcha orthography, the retroflex consonants are often distinguished from the clusters /kr/, /hr/, /gr/, by a small dot written below the consonant cluster. Retroflex sounds occur mainly in loanwords from Tibetan, although some Lepcha words with one of the native initial consonant clusters /kr/, /hr/ or /gr/ are now sometimes pronounced with retroflex sounds, especially in Sikkim.

The phoneme /kh/ occurs only in syllable-initial, not in syllable-final position. khek KXa khák KU khú ÁU khyú KXe [khe k ] [kh k ] [khu] [khju] ‘freeze’ ‘choke’ ‘loaf of bread’ ‘bathe’ 22 CHAPTER TWO labial dental voiceless stop [p] p aspirated voiceless stop alveolar retroflex palatal velar glottal [t] t [ ] tr [c] c [k] k [ ] [ph] ph [th] th [ h] thr [ch] ch [kh] kh voiced stop [b] b [d] d [ ] dr voiced nasal [m] m [n] n [ ] ny voiceless affricate [ ] ts aspirated voiceless affricate [ h] tsh voiceless fricative [f] f [s] [ ] s sh voiced fricative [v] v [z] z [ ] ng [ ] j [r] r voiced trill voiced approximant [ ] g [w] w [l] l [j] y [h] h voiceless approximant Diagram 2 Lepcha consonant phonemes PHONOLOGY AND ORTHOGRAPHY 23 The phoneme /g/ is an unaspirated voiced dorso-velar stop [ ].

TBU thúp ‘get’, but at other times another phenomenon can be seen at work. This is the influence of nasalisation on the spelling of words. While it does not make a difference to the meaning of a Lepcha word if vowels are nasalised or not, it does appear to make the spelling of such words less straightforward. e. U ú and O ó. e. e. U ú [u], O o [o], and o ó [ ] in other syllables. Sprigg also points out that a spelling with O o would often yield a spelling closer to a Tibetan cognate, but that perhaps for this very reason many Lepcha prefer a spelling with U ú (Sprigg 1989: 229).

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