Lipton’s Journal/February 14, 1955/567
For days I’ve been working toward my first real insight on vowels, and now I believe I have it. The hard and the soft, the sup and the er—a hard vowel is the socialization of a state of being. The soft vowel is the flowing continuous being. One little confirmation of this is that all the hard vowels may be expressed by one letter. ayyyyyy (hard a) is understood as A. Hard e is E pronounced as eeeeeeeeeee. Hard I is I (one’s social personality, one’s active giving, influencing aspect) AP: However, I is a peculiar vowel as a hard vowel for it conceals its very subtle almost or perhaps uncapturable echo. We say really IIIIIIIII-uh. Which is not true for the other hard vowels such as O which is simply O not Oh.
What I’m trying to get at is that the hard vowel remains constant in its sound through all of its flow. The h pinching off, and the sometimes guttural or high-pitched beginning of the hard vowel are manifestations of the difficulty we feel essentially in life at expressing a single rather than a double sound. So what characterized each of the hard vowels is that they are preceded by a suppressed (getting up to speed) consonant, and are ended by a braking consonant. I list them below.
- and uh—OOOOOOOOOOOO—uh (the oo of pool)
The soft vowels which express the self (and I believe these remarks about hard and soft vowels must be true for all languages or else the theory does not hold) are expressed in a series of alternations. Like this: /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\.
Hard vowels are more like this: /-----------------------\
Soft vowels also have accelerants and brakes. A more accurate picture is: /˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄˄\
And the reason for accelerants and brakes is that speech as such is not natural, not as natural as sound which comes from animal and man alike.
So the soft vowels.
Little e. eh space eh space eh space etc.
" i. ih " ih "
And so forth. The way we best notice this is in the slowing down of a record or in a singer sustaining a note. What happens is that the single sound becomes revealed as a double sound which is why a ringing occurs in the sustained note of the singer or a wow-wow beat in the slowing down of a hand-cranked phonograph. Which opens the laboratory possibility of cutting my own sound records and playing them slowed down on a special phonograph.
I think as a last note on all this one may say that consonants exhibit the ring or the wow (tweeter—woofer) more pronouncedly than even soft vowels. Just try to hum nnnnnnnnnnnnn or rrrrrrrrrrr or llllllllll. Only ssssssss acts like a hard vowel. ttttttttt is impossible. It is absolutely thing, one, instant in its sound. Only by adding h (th) can it be maintained and that by sliding into soft ih. (In a peculiar way, I believe it can be said that ‘s’ is a social vowel. But even the hard vowels have a suppressed woof or tweet to them.
So let me redraw the diagrams:
Both diagrams refer to the sustaining of the sound.