Auditory and Acoustic Evidence for Palatalization of the Nasal Consonant in Cairene Arabic

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2021-11-18

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MDPI

Abstract

This paper introduces the palatalized nasal [nʲ] as an allophonic realization of coronal /n/ in Cairene Arabic. The palatalized variants of the phonemes previously described in acoustic and sociolinguistic terms include the alveolar stops [t, d] and their pharyngealized counterparts [tˤ, dˤ], which can be palatalized preceding the high, front vowel [i:]. While previous studies have anecdotally noted that the coronal nasal /n/ can undergo palatalization in the same environment, this variant has not been systematically investigated. Focusing on syllable-final /-ni:/ segments, I first use auditory measures to show that the palatalized variant occurs with some regularity (~50%) in the read speech of seven speakers of Cairene Arabic. Then, I provide acoustic evidence that this perceived difference significantly correlates with the difference in F2 values taken from the onset and midpoint of the vowel following the nasal consonant. There is also evidence of a lexical effect, such that borrowings exhibit less palatalization than non-borrowings. This study contributes data for the unexamined Cairene nasal and supports the likelihood of palatalization of coronals at the typological level.

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Citation

Sokhey, N. Auditory and Acoustic Evidence for Palatalization of the Nasal Consonant in Cairene Arabic. Languages 2021, 6, 190.