Arabic/Maltese: Pharyngeal Fricative

  • SofiaB

    Senior Member
    English Asia
    The ح is a voiceless pharyngeal constricted fricative. As far as I know it is present in all variants of Arabic. At least in widely spoken variants.

     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Does it also exist in Maltese?
    Couldn't find anything in Wikipedia.

    I know that it is a separate language with Arabic roots and similar pronunciation, I thought a sound similar to ح would be there too.
     

    Sorridom

    New Member
    U.S.A. - English
    tvdxer said:
    Is this sound present in all variants of Arabic? Do any not possess it?
    Let me guess...looking for an excuse to bypass having to pronounce it? ;)

    Maltese does have a voiceless pharyngeal fricative (Ħ ħ), but, to my knowledge, lacks a voiced one.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    From Wikepedia:
    Ħ ħ no English equivalent; sounds like a breathy "h", heavy or like the "ch" in German or Scottish 'loch'.
    I think the Maltese Ħ ħ corresponds the Arabic خ, usually transliterated as "kh".
     

    SofiaB

    Senior Member
    English Asia
    Hi Anatoli,
    I looked at wiki. but did not see a conflict. does it say that ħ is خ? All that I have seen agrees that it is ح .
     

    SofiaB

    Senior Member
    English Asia
    There are thre h sounds in Arabic. So you may be right but I think it is ح.Let's wait for others to confirm.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    I looked at some other sites, it's not consistent and I got confused.

    see here:
    malta DOT lebaneseclub DOT org SLASH alphabet.htm
    ħ like h in hand, maybe pretty much like the Lebanese ح
    h is ه, isn't it?

    The Lebanese ح is the same as ح in MSA, isn't it?

    What we are after is probably għ:

    On Omniglot site
    is silent but pharyngealizes and lengthens vowels
     

    SofiaB

    Senior Member
    English Asia
    I think the h is stronger than h in hand.

    Your site says : ħ like h in hand, maybe pretty much like the Lebanese ح.
    h in hand is ه
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    You are repeating my quote SophiaB.

    So, which one is Maltese letter ħ corresponding to in Arabic ه (h), ح (guttural stop) or خ ( kh)?
     

    Manuel_M

    Senior Member
    Maltese
    Anatoli said:
    Than Wikipedia is wrong as for the Maltese alphabet. I quoted what the description of the letter is.
    Nowadays there is only one h (aitch) sound in Maltese: ħ which ( corresponds to the h in house, have, horror). Up unti afew yeras ago, in small villages in Gozo, older people still udes to voice the kħ, but thsi sound has now all but disappeared from the language. The old is rendered in writing by - actually one unvoiced consonant.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Well, I just read the German article and it says that the Maltese ħ corresponds to Arabic خ, the q corresponds to ء, and għ has developed from ع. The last letter is a bit complicated to explain, because in Arabic it is a consonant as k or m in English, whereas in Maltese it is used to lengthen the preceding vowel.

    Maybe a native speaker of Maltese can explain it better. :)
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Thanks for the answer, it remains unexplained, though. Need to find someone knowledgeable in both Arabic and Maltese to compare and say if the sounds exist or not and if they have a match in Arabic.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    I don't know how trustworthy this source is but here's the relationship between Arabic ع and Maltese għ:

    http://pne.livejournal.com/491020.html

    Maltese derives from two Arabic sounds: `ayn/ʕayn ع and ghayn/ġayn غ, only the second of which is a voiced velar fricative. (The first is a voiced pharyngeal fricative.) However, the (reflexes of the) two sounds merged in standard Maltese, though I believe there are (or at least, used to be not that long ago) dialects which preserve the distinction and not only pronounce għajn but pronounce it differently depending on whether it's a reflex of `ayn or ghayn.
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    Anatoli,

    Your quote is confirmed by Teach Yourself Maltese. It has for ħ
    "Unvoiced pharyngal (sic) fricative".

    Their description is
    TYMaltese said:
    like Eng. 'h' in 'horse', but comparatively stronger, occurring not only initially but also medially and finally. Exx. ħabb (ħapp) 'he loved'; baħar ('baħar) 'sea'; ruħ (ruuħ) 'soul'.
    So, all three examples have an ح in Arabic!

    The book also confirms the double ancestry of għ (ع٬غ) and that it is obsolete.

    The reference to German 'ach' caused some confusion on the first page. The way I have perceived what I have heard in Germany and have been told by teachers of German is that it shouldn't have the grating sound of خ, but really correspond more to the ح.
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    The Maltese ħ is quoted in most textbooks as being pronounced like in English hand, however to my ears, it sounds identical to the pharyngeal ح [ħ] of Arabic. The confusion over خ [kh (IPA:x)] is that Maltese ħ is cognate with both Arabic خ and Arabic ح which have merged into one Maltese sound ħ. For example: riħ (wind, Arabic ريح) but also ħobz (bread, Arabic خبز). Maltese h is silent, except at the end of a word when it is pronounced like ħ.

    Again, when I watch video clips or listen to Internet radio of speech, Maltese ħ sounds pharyngeal and not like the normal of English. However, the two are not distinguished and modern Maltese speakers probably use more and more as Manuel_M attested earlier in this thread. English has had a lot of influence on the language.

    The letter represents the phonemes ع and غ from Arabic in cognates, but it is more or less silent, [a] or [e]-coloring. Therefore, Maltese does not have a pharyngeal sound like ع in Arabic. It's effect is on the surrounding vowels. Għi is pronounced [ai] or [ei], Għu is pronounced [au] or [eu]. Għa, għe and għo are just long vowels [a:, e: and o:]. When the pseudo-phoneme occurs as the last letter of a word it is often represented with an apostrophe ', but reappears upon addition of other morphemes. For example: ma' (with) but miegħek (with you).

    These phonemes from Arabic are better preserved in the dialect of Gozo as was mentioned earlier. I believe the dialect of Gozo is stigmatized however as rural or old-fashioned sounding.
     
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    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Thanks, Clevermizo. It must be indeed, a difficult sound. If I am not mistaken, it has practically disappeared from the modern Hebrew.
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    Well 'ayin didn't just disappear in Hebrew in modern times. The pharyngeal pronunciation of 'ayin may have already been weakened during Talmudic times. The fact that Mizrahi or Sephardic Jews preserved 'ayin is probably due to reinforced pronunciation because of its presence in Arabic. Anyway, less conjecture would be that Ashkenazi Hebrew has no pharyngeal 'ayin (it's silent or perhaps a glottal stop). Modern Hebrew phonology was originally piecemealed together from Ashkenazi and Sephardic reading traditions, and now has blossomed into its own system, though 'ayin is still absent for most speakers. This it has inherited from Ashkenazi pronunciation (along with the uvular pronunciation of resh).

    'Ayin in the Tiberian vocalization system was decidedly [a] coloring, much the way it is in modern Maltese. This is probably the origin of the patach ganuv in Hebrew niqqud.

    'Ayin was also lost to Akkadian. Modern Aramaic speakers have an 'ayin sound, I believe, though this again is probably reinforced by an Arabic-dominant environment. Ge'ez had an 'ayin sound, modern Amharic does not. Arabic and South Arabian(and perhaps some Aramaic as mentioned above) are the Semitic languages that have best preserved this phoneme. However, even in modern dialects, you hear a rather weak version of it, especially in the urban speech of Egypt and the Levant. It sounds very "smooth" or "light" though definitely still audible.

    I believe, again, that 'ayin is preserved in the more conservative Maltese dialect of Gozo. Also the wiki entry on Maltese you linked much earlier in this thread is corresponding the Maltese phonemes with their cognates in Arabic words. The correspondence is not meant to indicate the Maltese sounds are just like the Arabic consonants represented.
     
    Last edited:

    Haskol

    Member
    Hebrew, English - US/Canada
    Certain African Arabic dialects do not have any pharyngeal fricative, whether ح or ع. The ones I know of are Nubian Arabic, Juba Arabic and Chadian Arabic, which I believe are quite similar to one another, but I don't know enough about them. These dialects could be (or are) classified as creoles, though.

    As for the Maltese ħ, its pronunciation varies depending on its place in the word. In general it is pronounced /h/, but the end of a word or if doubled it is pronounced more like /x/. But I've also heard it almost pronounced like a regular Arabic /ħ/ once or twice. Btw, the regular Maltese h, which is generally silent, is pronounced identically to ħ at the end of a word.

    There are no Maltese dialects that I know of that preserve the ع. Gozitan dialects (not sure if all of them, or only some) preserved the غ, which in I've seen described in standard Maltese as rgħain. These dialects, or at least pronunciations, are disappearing and only have a few elderly speakers who use them today. There is a great video somewhere online of an interview with an old Gozitan woman who pronounces the rgħain, but I can't find it.
     

    Brautryðjandinn í Úlfsham

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    In my experience of listening to Maltese, I feel that the pronunciation of ħ varies from person to person. More English-influenced speakers pronounce it identically to English "h", others pronounce it like the Arabic ح, and still others like the Arabic خ. My guess is that the local dialect of the speaker might have something to do with this. I agree with Haskol that at the end of a word it seems universally to be pronounced either as خ or ح and we therefore can say that Maltese does have a pharyngeal fricative, even if in almost all other cases it is pronounced as the English "h".

    Also, apart from the mark the has left on the vowels i and u when preceding them by altering their pronunciation to "ai/ei" and "ow/ew", it also is pronounced identically to the ħ when it appears word finally. So the word "qiegħ" ("bottom") is pronounced as if it were spelled "qieħ". In this way it is similar to the h. The is also pronounced like a geminated ħ when it directly precedes the h. So the word "tagħha" ("hers") rhymes with "saħħa" ("health"). The h, apart from being pronounced as ħ when occurring at the end of a word, is also pronounced as ħ in certain circumstances when it is the third component of a triconsonantal root (like "x-b-h" (denoting "resemblance" or "image")) and a verb derived from that root has an ending following the h. For example, "jixbhu" ("they resemble") is pronounced "jixbħu", "bellaht" ("I/you stupefied") is pronounced "bellaħt" (from the root "b-l-h").
     
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