Phonetic Correlates of Pharyngeal and Pharyngealized Consonants in Saudi, Lebanese, and Jordanian Arabic: An rt-MRI Study

Zainab Hermes, Marissa Barlaz, Ryan Shosted, Zhi-Pei Liang, Brad Sutton


The phonemic inventory of Arabic includes sounds that involve a pharyngeal constriction. Sounds referred to as ‘pharyngeal’ (/ʕ/ and /ħ/) are reported to have a primary constriction in the pharynx, while sounds referred to as ‘pharyngealized’ (/sʕ/, /tʕ/, /dʕ/, and /ðʕ/ or /zʕ/) are reported to have a secondary constriction in the pharynx. Some studies propose grouping both types of sounds together, citing phonetic and phonological evidence. Phonetically, pharyngeal consonants are argued to have a primary constriction below the pharynx, and are thus posited to be pharyngealized laryngeals. Under this view, the pharyngeal constriction is secondary, not primary. Phonologically, it has been established that pharyngealized sounds trigger pharyngealization spread, and proposals for grouping pharyngeal and pharyngealized consonants together cite similar, but not identical, spread patterns triggered by pharyngeals. In this study, Real-time Magnetic Resonance Imaging is employed to investigate the phonetic correlates of the pharyngeal constriction in both pharyngeal and pharyngealized sounds in Saudi, Lebanese, and Jordanian Arabic as exemplified by one speaker from each dialect. Our findings demonstrate a difference in the location of constriction among both types of sounds. These distinctions in place possibly account for the differences in the spread patterns triggered by each type of sound.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1601

Cite as: Hermes, Z., Barlaz, M., Shosted, R., Liang, Z., Sutton, B. (2017) Phonetic Correlates of Pharyngeal and Pharyngealized Consonants in Saudi, Lebanese, and Jordanian Arabic: An rt-MRI Study. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 201-205, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1601.


@inproceedings{Hermes2017,
  author={Zainab Hermes and Marissa Barlaz and Ryan Shosted and Zhi-Pei Liang and Brad Sutton},
  title={Phonetic Correlates of Pharyngeal and Pharyngealized Consonants in Saudi, Lebanese, and Jordanian Arabic: An rt-MRI Study},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={201--205},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1601},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1601}
}