Working paper Open Access

Guttural Vowels and Guttural Coarticulation in Ju|'hoansi

Miller-Ockhuizen, Amanda

Ju|’hoansi contains parallel glottalization, breathiness and epiglottalization on consonants and vowels, as well as uvularization on consonants. There are voice quality cues associated with epiglottalized vowels that parallel those found with breathy and glottalized vowels. There is also guttural coarticulation, whereby aspirated, glottalized, uvularized and epiglottalized consonants spread acoustic voice quality cues onto a following vowel. The laryngeal coarticulation exhibited by click consonants is shown to be largely analogous to coarticulation found with pulmonic consonants.

Two levels of acoustic similarity involving gutturals are identified. Low HNR in the C-V transition unites all gutturals, and low spectral slope differentiates glottals and epiglottals from aspirates and uvularized sounds that are associated with high spectral slopes. The two natural classes identified by these cues are shown to be targeted in perceptuallymotivated sound patterns. In addition to the four-way phonation type contrast on vowels, there are also diphthongs in breathiness and epiglottalization, leading to a three-way timing contrast in roots.

Sufficient temporal separation of voice quality cues is not achieved between roots containing similar guttural consonants and guttural vowels. Phonotactic patterns assure that similar consonants and vowels do not co-occur within a single root, allowing Voice Onset Time to assure sufficient discriminability of roots containing guttural consonants and roots containing guttural vowels.

This suggests that sound inventories can not be evaluated for discriminability in isolation of existing co-occurrence patterns.

This paper is copyrighted, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) - see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
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