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LINGUIST List 23.2165

Fri May 04 2012

Diss: Moroccan Arabic/Phonetics/Phonology/Psycholing: Zellou: 'Similarity and Enhancement: Nasality from Moroccan Arabic pharyngeals and nasals'

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Date: 24-Apr-2012
From: Georgia Zellou <georgia.weissmancolorado.edu>
Subject: Similarity and Enhancement: Nasality from Moroccan Arabic pharyngeals and nasals
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Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Georgia Eve Zellou

Dissertation Title: Similarity and Enhancement: Nasality from Moroccan Arabic pharyngeals and nasals

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Moroccan (ary)

Dissertation Director:
Rebecca Scarborough

Dissertation Abstract:

Experimental studies of the articulation, acoustics, and perception of
nasal and pharyngeal consonants and adjacent vowels were conducted to
investigate nasality in Moroccan Arabic (MA). The status of nasality in MA
is described as coarticulatorily complex, where two phoneme types
(pharyngeal segments and nasal segments) yield similar non-contrastive
coarticulatory information (nasality) on adjacent vowels. The production
and perception of the coarticulatory complexity of nasality in MA is the
focus of this dissertation.

An aerodynamic study demonstrated that nasal airflow is reliably present
during the production of pharyngeal consonants, yet to a degree less than
nasal consonants. This study also indicated this nasality is coarticulated
on vowels adjacent to pharyngeal and nasal consonants. An acoustic study
confirmed the patterns of coarticulatory nasality from nasals and
pharyngeals and explored how nasality as a coarticulatory complex feature,
a feature associated with two distinct segment types, affects its
patterning in the language.

This study reveals that vowel nasality is perceptually associated with
pharyngeal, as well as nasal, consonants in MA, as evidenced by faster
reaction times when vowel nasality was present in a lexical repetition
task, compared to a condition where there was no vowel nasality, evidence
that non-contrastive coarticulatory information is indeed perceptually
informative not only in the context of phonologically nasal segments, but
also in the context of pharyngeal consonants. Furthermore, there is
evidence of perceptual compensation for nasality, wherein in the context of
pharyngeal consonants listeners show patterns that suggest they do not
"hear" vowel nasality but rather attribute it to its source. Together,
this is evidence of partial compensation since listeners retain sensitivity
to and facilitation from vowel nasality, revealed by faster response times
in the lexical repetition task.

The results of the experiments outlined in this dissertation suggest 1)
that nasality is a property of pharyngeal consonants and adjacent vowels
that is highly controlled by speakers in order to maintain distinctiveness
between pharyngeal and nasal consonant nasality and 2) that nasality is
being utilized as a secondary, enhancement feature for pharyngeal
consonants, potentially to maintain the distinctiveness of pharyngeal
segments from the other guttural phonological class consonants in MA.

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