Investigating the emphatic feature in Iraqi Arabic

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The secondary place of articulation for Arabic emphatic consonants varies across dialects. This study examines two speakers of Iraqi Arabic, using acoustic evidence, and one speaker of Iraqi Arabic, using direct visual articulatory (transnasal laryngoscopic) evidence, to investigate the phonetic nature of the secondary feature and the prosodic effect of an emphatic consonant over multisyllabic words. The acoustic and laryngoscopic evidence suggests that the articulation of emphatics in Iraqi Arabic involves a modification of the shape of the pharynx which could be called pharyngealisation, which differs, however, from the pharyngeal configuration for producing pharyngeal consonants. While laryngeal constriction, with tongue retraction and larynx raising, characterises pharyngeals, larynx height appears to be low in the secondary articulation accompanying emphatics, while the tongue dorsum appears to be raised, giving the pharynx a singularly contrasting, narrowed configuration to that found in pharyngeals. Furthermore, the effect of an emphatic spreads to all syllables, forwards or backwards, regardless of its position in the word, although the effect is modified or blocked in certain phonotactic conditions.

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Gothenburg; 2: University of Victoria



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