LINGUIST List 10.1217

Fri Aug 20 1999

Sum: Clicks

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <lydialinguistlist.org>


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  1. Nick Reid, Clicks

Message 1: Clicks

Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 14:24:33 +1000
From: Nick Reid <nreidmetz.une.edu.au>
Subject: Clicks

Recently I posted a query about clicks in Sesotho and Setswana, and
gratefully received responses from these people;

Katherine Demuth
Julian Lloyd
Daan Wissing
Larry Horn
Shamila Naidoo
Justus Roux
Tore Janson

It turns out I was wrong about Setswana - it doesn't have clicks at all.
The sound I was hearing is an alveolar closure released laterally with
glottalic (or ejective ) airstream.

Sesotho has a click at only a single place of articulation. This is
generally described as palato-alveolar, but Tore Janson suggests that "in
languages without any contrast in place of articulation there tends to be
considerable individual and/or social variation in the actual
pronunciation."

This Sesotho click has plain, aspirated, and nasal manners of articulation,
the first two written as q and qh respectively. The nasal ?? no-one
mentioned its orthographic representation.

Both these languages have been studied in some detail. Katherine provided
these two references for general grammars;

Cole, D. T. 1955. An introduction to Tswana grammar. Cape Town: Longman.

Doke, C. M. & Mofokeng, S. M. 1957. Textbook of Southern Sotho grammar.
Cape Town: Longman.

and Shamila provided these two (undated) references that are specifically
phonetic.

An Introduction to Sesotho Phonetics
LJ Kock & RH Moeketsi
Marius Lubbe Publishers

An Introduction to Tswana Phonetics
JW Snyman
Marius Lubbe Publishers

Larry Horn included information about Xhosa;
"In the southern Bantu language of Xhosa, Q, X, and C are used for
domal/retroflex, lateral, and alveolar/dental clicks respectively. The
orthographic TL you mention for Setswana sounds like the Xhosa X click, and
the Q like the Xhosa C. Very confusing. As for the QH, at least in Xhosa
clicks can be (post)aspirated, and that's what the H indicates. (There are
also prenasalized and "voiced" clicks--the latter I'm told by phoneticians
is an articulatory misnomer, but phonologically such clicks, indicated by
an orthographic G before the position indicator (as prenasalized clicks are
marked by orthographic N), fall together with "real" voiced consonants in
their affect on the tone of a following vowel."

My thanks to all who replied. This list is really a fabulous tool for
finding prompt, friendly, and expert advice, isn't it.

cheers

Nick Reid

Dr Nicholas Reid
School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
University of New England
Armidale 2351, AUSTRALIA

ph: +61 [0]2 6773 3400
fax: +61 [0]2 6773 3735
email: nreidmetz.une.edu.au
website: http://www.une.edu.au/~arts/Linguist/linguist.htm
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