“So how do you get such a word like KLATE in your dialect?” my friend asked me once.
“Okay, if you can bear with my phonetic and phonological ramblings, you’ll get the answer.”
“Oh, come on. I can always stand the linguistic torture!”
“Alright then. I’m happy to do that favour for you. Now, you must know that, in Kelantan dialect, there are a lot of ‘dropping’ phenomena.”
“Like bird’s droppings?”
“You can imagine that way if you like. Okay, listen up, you naughty chap. There are three simple rules operating here. First, most of the words in Kelantan dialect are disyllabic, I mean two syllables. Since the word KELANTAN has three syllables, something must be dropped here.”
“The weak vowel in the first syllable! Yes, the schwa. So, the consonants of K and L are now merged together, making it a syllable with an initial cluster of KL. So now we have two syllables – KLAN and TAN.”
“Right. Second, the nasal sounds are always dropped at the end of a syllable. In the case of syllables KLAN and TAN, the final two nasal consonants of N are dropped.”
“So we have KLATA!”
“But I thought it should be KLATE, huh?”
“Be patient. You have yet to listen to the last rule.”
“Now, finally, the dropped nasal consonant at the end of a word usually affects the preceding vowel too. In KLATA, the last open vowel of A is replaced with a front open-mid vowel of E, which sounds like the vowels in these English words – HAIR, PAIR, CARE. Got it?”
“So we have KLATE!”
“Excellent! You ‘dropped’ well! Thanks to your bird’s droppings imagination.”
“I know, my Klate boy.”
p.s. I enjoyed this afternoon’s Speed Paper Session. Thanks for coming, Adli.