This work is an attempt to study some salient features of Gujarati Phonology; especially of a standard dialect of the language. The work began by collection of the phonic substance of the language. No predecided, prefixed, theory or methodological frame was considered as a model. Only predecided part of the study was to stress the importance of phonetics in phonology, and to give weightage to the perception of the language users. The phonetic variation at the production end and the phonemes at the perception end are irresistibly challenging topics in the field of phonology.
The study has concentrated on some aspects of vowel phonology: the specific features of Gujarati vowel system has compelled me to do so.
One such feature of vowels makes them vulnerable to prosodies. Speech has its own musical score ranging from definite articules to laryngeal prosodies. Vowels with the optimal manifestation of voice create the vocalic continuum. The murmur prosody in Gujarati is the most interesting peculiarity of such continuum. It was noted that almost 50% of Gujarati speakers speak with a kind of phonation which inhibits murmuredness. Tomograms are provided to show the difference between two phonations types.
The issue of Gujarati having six vowel phonemes or eight is discussed in detail to show that variations in mid-vowels pose a theoretical question as to when does a feature serve as a contrastive feature phonemically.
Another pertinent feature of Gujarati vowel is nasalization. Various nasality manifestations are discussed here.
The dynamics of processes such as murmur, lowering of the vowels, nasalization call for the syllabication of the language.
The work concludes by attempting to give some rules (for the prosodies and processes) following dependency phonology and autosegmental phonology.
Dr.Bharati Modi was a Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Linguistics at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. Currently she is actively associated with the Akshar Trust which runs one of the most successful schools for the hearing impaired in Baroda, India. The Ministry of Education in India overseas the Rehabilitaion Council that operates specialized Training Programs for teachers of the Hearing Impaired Students. Since her retirement from active academics Dr. Modi has been part of the faculty for this specialized training program for the past 20 years. She teaches a range of subjects that cover Phonetics, Language Component, and Language acquisition.