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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Subject: Lateral Lisp sound in African languages?
Question: I've listened to a good amount of African (largely South African)
music in the last few years, and it sounds to me that in one or
more languages (perhaps Zulu, for one) there is actually a sound
that sounds like a lateral lisp. I've noticed this with several
different artists (e.g. both Zola and Ladysmith Black Mambazo), and
they all are able to pronounce ''s'' sounds properly, which suggests
to me that it's not a speech impediment but an actual part of the
language's phonology.

I've searched around online, but I haven't been able to find any
reference to this! Am I imagining things? What is this sound that
I'm hearing?


Reply: Hi, Michael,

My colleagues have done a good job of answering your question. Just
in case you are still having problems with this, another way to
describe the sound is as a 'voiceless l'.


James L. Fidelholtz
Graduate Program in Language Sciences
Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades
Benem'erita Universidad Aut'onoma de Puebla, M'EXICO
Reply From: James L Fidelholtz      click here to access email
Date: 07-Dec-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Lateral Lisp sound in African languages?    Norvin Richards     (06-Dec-2013)
  2. Re: Lateral Lisp sound in African languages?    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (06-Dec-2013)

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