SRPP: A whole tongue approach to gutturals in Levantine Arabic using Generalized Additive Mixed Modelling of Tongue surfaces

Jalal Al-Tamimi (LLF)
07 October 2022, 11h0012h30

Guttural consonants (i.e., uvular, pharyngealized and pharyngeal) in Arabic are argued to form a natural class due to phonological patterning and use of a common oro-sensory zone in the pharynx (McCarthy, 1994; Sylak-Glassman, 2014a, 2014b). Yet, phonetic studies have failed to successfully find a single phonetic exponent to explain this patterning. In fact, many studies have tried to quantify this patterning by looking at changes within the root of the tongue. In this study, I Generalized Additive Mixed Modelling to quantify the whole tongue changes as obtained from Ultrasound Tongue Imaging. Using various quantification methods (2D and 3D difference splines), I show how gutturals use a common area in the vocal tract, which is indeed located at the tongue root, but also located at the tongue dorsum and body. The observed patterns point towards a gradient rather than categorical change. The phonological feature that can explain these patterns is predominantly the feature [+retracted], which is a subcomponent of the feature [+constricted epilaryngeal tube] (following the predictions of the Laryngeal Articulator Model” (LAM, Esling, 2005; Esling et al., 2019). However, tongue root, dorsum and body changes cannot be simply quantified by the feature [+retracted]. I discuss implications for an alternative formal account.

Esling, J. (2005). There Are No Back Vowels: The Laryngeal Articulator Model. The Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 50(1), 13–44.
Esling, J., Moisik, S., Benner, A., & Crevier-Buchman, L. (2019). Voice Quality: The Laryngeal Articulator Model (Issue 1). Cambridge University Press.
McCarthy, J. J. (1994). The phonetics and phonology of Semitic pharyngeals. In P. A. Keating (Ed.), Phonological Structure and Phonetic Form (pp. 191–233). Cambridge University Press.
Sylak-Glassman, J. (2014a). An Emergent Approach to the Guttural Natural Class. Proceedings of the Annual Meetings on Phonology, 1–12.
Sylak-Glassman, J. (2014b). Deriving Natural Classes: The Phonology and Typology of Post-Velar Consonants. University of California, Berkeley.

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