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Phonology

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Chapter Summary

Dhimal has a rich array of consonant phonemes (31) with five places of articulation being distinguished: bilabial, alveolar, palatal, velar and glottal. In phonation, two sets of distinctions are made: voiced and breathy, and voiceless and aspirated voiceless. This chapter provides a list of phonemes that occur only in words borrowed from Indo-Aryan languages. Depending on an individual's age, educational level and familiarity with these languages, these phonemes may be realised as either their Indo-Aryan counterparts or as the nearest Dhimal equivalent, viz. alveolar placement rather than retroflex. One of the more striking features of the Dhimal phonemic system is the number of breathy phonemes, which include not only stops, but also nasals, laterals, flaps and glides. Dhimal distinguishes five primary vowel qualities. Vowel length is largely distinctive only in open stem verbs and derived nominals.

Keywords: consonant phonemes; Dhimal phonology; Dhimal vowel; Indo-Aryan languages

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