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On ejective fricatives in Omani Mehri

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image of Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics

Ejective fricatives are extremely rare cross-linguistically. This infrequency is generally attributed to the incompatibility of two aerodynamic requirements: airflow to create noise frication and a high intraoral air pressure to implement ejectivity. Seeking to determine how this incompatibility is solved, this study presents an acoustic investigation of initial and intervocalic ejective fricatives in Mehri, a Modern South Arabian language spoken in Oman. Based on data from 5 Mehri speakers, the analysis of different temporal and non-temporal parameters shows a high degree of variability in the way ejectivity is implemented in fricatives. Much of this variability is shaped by the position of the segments within the word. In initial position, the ejectivity of fricatives translates into a frequent presence of post-frication glottal lags, higher intensity and higher center of gravity. These acoustic attributes are less frequently encountered in intervocalic position. In this position, it is argued, the systematic diphthongization of the following long vowel, induced by ejectivity combined with dorsopharyngealisation, is salient enough to allow the contrast of ejectivity to be recovered.

Affiliations: 1: CNRS/Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris ; 2: CNRS/Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris


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