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The Sounds of Nǀuu: Place and Airstream Contrasts

Miller, Amanda L.; Brugman, Johanna; Sands, Bonny; Nameseb, Levi; Exter, Mats; Collins, Chris

We provide a phonetic description of all 73 consonants of the endangered southern African language Nǀuu. Our segment classification uses just four linguistic dimensions (place, manner, phonation and airstream) and avoids the phonetically empty category click accompaniment. We provide acoustic, linguographic and palatographic evidence for active and passive articulators in the anterior constrictions of lingual (click) and linguo-pulmonic stops.

We provide acoustic and ultrasound evidence showing that all click posterior constrictions involve the tongue root.. Contrastive lingual and linguopulmonic segments with the same anterior and posterior places of articulation differ in terms of airstream. Lingual stops employ a single airstream, while linguo-pulmonic stops are airstream contours. Structurally, linguo-pulmonic stops are parallel to affricates and prenasalized stops.

Our evidence suggests that a contrast between “velar” and “uvular” clicks in ǃXóõ is also a contrast of simple vs. airstream contours, and that a click contrast solely in posterior place is anticipatorily impossible.

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