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Acoustic Phonetic Aspects of a 7/9 Vowel Inventory: A Study of the [ATR] Harmony Language Zaghawa
Timothy K. Mathes
180-187 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Although ATR harmony has been studied in a number of languages, very little acoustic phonetic work has been conducted on ATR harmony systems in Nilo-Saharan languages (Guion et al. 2004). What is particularly intriguing about the Kube dialect of the Nilo-Saharan language Zaghawa is the asymmetry between underlying contrast and surface realization in its vowel inventory. The [+ATR] mid vowels [e], [o], are always found in the context of a [+ATR] high vowel [i], [u], and never alone. While 9 vowels are phonetically present (i.e., [i], [ɪ], [e], [ɛ], [u], [ʊ], [o], [ɔ] and [a]), only 7, excluding [e], [o], are underlyingly contrastive, which is a less common inventory (Anonby 2007, Casali 2008). This paper reports on an acoustic study of [ATR] vowels in the Kube dialect. The results indicate that while the acoustic difference between [+/-ATR] harmonic pairs is in line with previous findings of the first formant (F1) being the most robust cue, the [+ATR] allophonic mid vowels [e], [o] and [-ATR] high vowels [ɪ], [ʊ] have significant F1 differences as well, which has not always been the case in previous instrumental studies of ATR harmony languages.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
edited by Ruth Kramer, Elizabeth C. Zsiga, and One Tlale Boyer
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00