Kalasha affricates: An acoustic analysis of place contrasts

By Kochetov, Alexei & Paul Arsenault
View profile for: Dr. Paul Arsenault

Kalasha (Northwestern Indo-Aryan, spoken in Pakistan) exhibits a complex set of ten affricate phonemes, which is exceedingly rare among the world’s languages and not representative of the broader South Asian context. This paper presents results of an acoustic analysis of place contrasts (dental, retroflex, and alveolopalatal) in affricates of four laryngeal specifications (voiceless unaspirated, voiceless aspirated, non-breathy voiced, and breathy voiced). These consonants were produced by four male speakers of Kalasha in a variety of phonetic contexts, resulting in a sample of close to 700 affricate tokens. A series of acoustic analyses of the data revealed that place contrasts in Kalasha affricates are distinguished robustly by both burst/frication spectra and formant transitions, but not by duration, which correlates more with laryngeal features. Place distinctions are somewhat diminished for voiced affricates but are largely unaffected by aspiration and syllable position. Most of these results are consistent with what is known about comparable (yet laryngeally simpler) place contrasts in other languages outside of South Asia. However, some of them are unique and may reflect the typological uniqueness and complexity of Kalasha’s affricate system.

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This is a peer reviewed Article

Article in Journal of South Asian Languages and Linguistics
Volume #: 6
Issue #: 2
Pages: 245–280
Publisher: De Gruyter
Year: 2020