Book section Open Access

"Backwards" sibilant palatalization in a variety of Setswana

Wm. G. Bennett

Palatalization of coronals and stridents is well-known and widespread, and is most commonly associated with front vowels or glides as triggers. In some dialect(s) of Setswana, a much different type of palatalization occurs: alveolar stridents /s ts tsʰ/ become pre-palatal [ʃ tʃ tʃʰ] before back vowels and the glide [w]. Clear empirical support for this pattern comes from productive alternations induced by the nominalizing suffix /-ɔ/, as well as alternations with an assortment of less productive morphemes, and lexical evidence. If palatalization before front vocoids is phonetically natural, then palatalization before back vocoids seems like it must be phonetically unnatural. However, this paper suggests that it is not the case: palatalization before back vowels actually makes phonetic sense, as a consequence of using lip rounding as a phonetic enhancement of the S~Š distinction.

Files (220.6 kB)
Name Size
220.6 kB Download
All versions This version
Views 8282
Downloads 1818
Data volume 4.0 MB4.0 MB
Unique views 7777
Unique downloads 1616


Cite as