Lateral fricative ḍād in Tihāmat Qaḥtān

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This article presents the results of a sociolinguistic investigation of the phonemic status of the emphatic lateral fricative [ɮʕ] in the dialects of Tihamat Qaḥtān, Saudi Arabia. The study is based on empirical data, obtained through sociolinguistic interviews, analyzed quantitatively, and correlated with age, gender, locality and linguistic environment. The statistical analysis reveals that (i), while the lateral fricative is used in considerable proportion, it is undergoing change to emphatic interdental [ðʕ]; (ii), many speakers use the lateralized variant in historically *ðʕ items, which suggests that while both sounds are present in the phonemic inventory of these dialects, they are treated as allophones of a single phonological unit; this result also suggests that the lateral variant has social meaning.


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