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Glottalisation and neutralisation in Yemeni Arabic and Mehri

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Abstract

We present results of a comparative acoustic analysis of pre-pausal glottalisation in S&#803;an&#8216;&#257;ni, the Arabic dialect of the old city of S&#803;an&#8216;&#257;, and Mahriy&#333;t, an eastern Yemeni dialect of the Modern South Arabian language Mehri.<sup>1</sup> Data are analysed from one speaker of each variety. In the obstruent series, both varieties maintain the three-way voiced &#8211; emphatic &#8211; voiceless contrast of Proto-Semitic. In S&#803;an&#8216;&#257;ni, sonorants and voiced and emphatic obstruents glottalise pre-pausally, while voiceless aspirated stops pre-aspirate, leading to neutralisation of the laryngeal contrast between voiced and emphatic obstruents. Our analyses of S&#803;an&#8216;&#257;ni demonstrate that while oral stops and vowels post-glottalise, other segments tend to pre-glottalise and are prone to lenition, particularly the (non-sibilant) coronals. In Mahriy&#333;t, emphatic and voiced obstruents are glottalised pre-pausally, and voiceless aspirates are heavily post-aspirated. Sonorants and fricatives may be pre-glottalised, but, in contrast to S&#803;an&#8216;&#257;ni, no lenition is evident. Results also show that while the Mahriy&#333;t velar emphatic is ejective in all positions, the other emphatics become ejective only pre-pausally.

References

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