Phonation and glottal states in Modern South Arabian and San'ani Arabic

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This chapter examines phonation categories and glottal states in the Modern South Arabian language, Mehri, as spoken in southern Oman and eastern Yemen with reference also to its sister language, Śḥerɛ̄t, and in San’ani Arabic from an Emergent Features perspective (Mielke, 2008). Within the paper, we consider the extent to which these language varieties may inform research on the phonological categories of the early Arab grammarians. The innovation in this paper lies in addressing the relationship between phonological patterning, phonetics, and distinctive features. We present data to show that voiced and emphatic phonemes pattern together in these varieties in opposition to voiceless phonemes, leading us to postulate a phonological account in terms of two ‘emergent’ laryngeal features [open] and [closed], that draws on Morén’s Parallel Structures model (2003).


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