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Uvular consonant

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Uvular consonant

Tongue shape

Uvulars are advanced tongue root,[1] and they often cause retraction of neighboring vowels.

Uvular consonants in IPA

The uvular consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
uvular nasal Japanese 日本 Nihon [nʲi.hoɴ] Japan
voiceless uvular stop Kazakh Қазақ Qazaq [qɑzɑq] Kazakh
voiced uvular stop Inuktitut utirama [ʔutiɢama] because I return
voiceless uvular fricative Castilian Spanish enjuto [ẽ̞ɴˈχut̪o̞] skinny
voiced uvular fricative French rester [ʁɛste] to stay
uvular trill French (20th century Paris accent) Paris [paˈʀi] Paris
uvular ejective Quechua q'allu aʎu] tomato sauce
voiced uvular implosive Mam [ʛa] fire
ɢ̆ uvular flap
ʟ̠ uvular lateral approximant

Descriptions in different languages

9. uvular

English has no uvular consonants, and they are unknown in the indigenous languages of Australia and the Pacific, though uvular consonants separate from velar consonants are believed to have existed in the Proto-Oceanic language. Uvular consonants are however found in many African and Middle-Eastern languages, most notably Arabic, and in Native American languages. In parts of the Caucasus mountains and northwestern North America, nearly every language has uvular stops and fricatives. Two uvular Rs are found in north-western Europe. It was once thought that they spread from northern French, but some linguists believe that contact does not explain the appearance of all uvular Rs in Europe.

The voiceless uvular stop is transcribed as [q] in both the IPA and SAMPA. It is pronounced somewhat like the voiceless velar stop [k], but with the middle of the tongue further back on the velum, against or near the uvula. The most familiar use will doubtless be in the transliteration of Arabic place names such as Qatar and Iraq into English, though, since English lacks this sound, this is generally pronounced as [k], the most similar sound that occurs in English.

[ɢ], the voiced equivalent of [q], is much rarer. It is like the voiced velar stop [ɡ], but articulated in the same uvular position as [q]. Few languages use this sound, but it is found in some varieties of Persian and in several Northeast Caucasian languages, notably Tabasaran. It may also occur as an allophone of another uvular consonant - in Kazakh, the voiced uvular stop is an allophone of the voiced uvular fricative after the velar nasal.

The voiceless uvular fricative [χ] is similar to the voiceless velar fricative [x], except that it is articulated near the uvula. It is found instead of [x] in some dialects of German, Spanish and Arabic.

Uvular flaps have been reported for Kube (Trans–New Guinea) and for the variety of Khmer spoken in Battambang.

The Tlingit language of the Alaskan Panhandle has ten uvular consonants:

Uvulars in Tlingit
tenuis stop qákʷ tree spine
aspirated stop ákʷ basket
ejective stop akʷ screech owl
labialized tenuis stop náa octopus
labialized aspirated stop qʷʰáan people, tribe
labialized ejective stop qʷʼátɬ cooking pot
voiceless fricative χaakʷ fingernail
ejective fricative χʼáakʷ freshwater sockeye salmon
labialized voiceless fricative χʷastáa canvas, denim
labialized ejective fricative χʷʼáaɬʼ down (feathers)

and the Ubykh language of Turkey has 20.

Phonological representation

In featural phonology, uvular consonants are most often considered to contrast with velar consonants in terms of being [–high] and [+back]. Prototypical uvulars also appear to be [-ATR].[1]

Two variants can the established. Since palatalized consonants are [-back], the appearance of palatalized uvulars in a few languages such as Ubykh is difficult to account for. According to Vaux (1999), they possibly hold the features [+high], [-back], [-ATR], the last being the distinguishing feature from a palatalized velar consonant.

Uvular rhotics

The uvular trill [ʀ] is used in certain dialects (especially those associated with European capitals) of French, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, as well as sometimes in Modern Hebrew, for the rhotic phoneme. In many of these it has a uvular fricative (either voiced [ʁ] or voiceless [χ]) as an allophone when it follows one of the voiceless stops /p/, /t/, or /k/ at the end of a word, as in the French example maître [mɛtχ], or even a uvular approximant.

As with most trills, uvular trills are often reduced to a single contact, especially between vowels.

Unlike other uvular consonants, the uvular trill is articulated without a retraction of the tongue, and therefore doesn't lower neighboring high vowels the way uvular stops commonly do.

Several other languages, including Inuktitut, Abkhaz, Uyghur and some varieties of Arabic, have a voiced uvular fricative but do not treat it as a rhotic consonant.

In Lakhota the uvular trill is an allophone of the voiced uvular fricative before /i/.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b

References

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