Emphatic consonants (as seperate phonemes)

MathiasSWE

Member
Swedish
Hi!

Do native Arabic speakers percieve the emphatic consonants as seperate phonemes from their unemphatic counterparts, or are they just meant as a way off altering the pronunciation of the following vowel?


Thank you!
 
  • elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I'll second that.

    That's not surprising, since they are in fact separate phonemes:

    Emphatic consonants do not always affect the pronunciation of the vowel(s) in their environment*, so they can form minimal pairs with their non-emphatic counterparts:

    تين (figs) - طين (mud)
    سور (fence) - صور (Tyre, city in Lebanon)
    ذل (humiliation) - ظل (shadow)
    (I've been racking my brain trying to think of an example for د and ض, but the only one I can think of is from Palestinian Arabic (دُب [bear] - ضُب [put away; tidy up]). There must be one in MSA, though; perhaps someone else can think of one).

    Minimal pairs are the ultimate proof of phonemic status. :)
    ______________
    *It is not always the following vowel that is affected. Sometimes there is no following vowel.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    In case it is not apparent from Elroy' post, not only are they perceived as separate phonemes, but they are indeed separate letters with different symbols representing them:

    ت and ط
    س and ص
    د and ض
    ذ and ظ

    An example for د and ض would be درب (darb) and ضرب (Darb) -- path and hitting respectively.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    An example for د and ض would be درب (darb) and ضرب (Darb) -- path and hitting respectively.
    That's not a minimal pair because the sound of the a is different. A true minimal pair differs only in one sound. I could think of plenty of pairs of words like درب and ضرب, but I couldn't think of one in which no vowel sounds change!

    By the way, that each of the consonants we're discussing is represented by its own grapheme does not actually prove their phonemic status. Think of the c in city and the s in simple. Those are two different graphemes that correspond to the same phoneme (in this case).
     
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    Pivra

    Senior Member
    ...
    When I learned arabic (in my language) we have 2 different types of A sound so when we started long long time ago I remember that Ta Tha Zeyn Dhal Seen and stuff is the A as in regular A and Taad Saad Zaa Dhaa use the "O" like sound like "Ra" which we also have. I remember that if you have one of the later ones you have to pronounce the word abit differently like summer would be read more like soiffee instead of saiffee no? or China would be read as Sueen instead of Seen.
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    Minimal pairs are the thorough proof of phonemic status in an ideal world, but really they are hard to find quite often. The example of تين and طين does differ in the pronunciation of the ي, as the ii vowel is more centralized under the influence of the emphatic consonant. If it still sounds the same to anyone, I recommend recording it and actually looking at the waveform and the formants, especially at the beginning of the vowel. In fact, other than the back vowel /u/, I would assume it is always difficult to find minimal pairs with emphatic consonants simply because emphatic consonants in Arabic have that special ability to affect the sounds around them.

    Fortunately, we don't have to rely on minimal pairs. If you have the sounds [d] and [D] in the same phonetic distribution, and if they are also different sounds, then they are phonemes of a language, /d/ and /D/. ض can occur anywhere in a word, د can also occur anywhere in a word. ض and د are different sounds. They are not in complementary distribution and are therefore phonemes. If only ض and never د occurred at the beginning of a word, and د and never ض occurred in all other positions, then that might be suspicious of being the same phoneme, although that is still harder to prove. It's rather easy then to show all these sounds are separate phonemes. It's not as strict as the minimal pair proof, but I think often just as effective.

    A pair of sounds however, such as [æ] and [a] do not constitute separate phonemes because they occur under different phonological contexts [Ta: and not *Tæ: for example), and can therefore be considered to be different realizations of one vowel phoneme /a/.

    I think the Arabic script does a pretty good job of having a 1 character: 1 phoneme transcription, at least when it comes to fus7a.
     
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    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    Elroy, I don't really get the vowel change, they are دَرْب and ضَرْب, so where is the different vowel?

    Pivra, summer is صَيْف = Saif, and China is صِين = Seen, I really don't don't know how teh o and u sound come in. Also, what is the double ee? If you want the infliction then the default is Dhamma when in isolation and tanween when indefinte so it should be صَيْفٌ = Saifun.
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    Elroy, I don't really get the vowel change, they are دَرْب and ضَرْب, so where is the different vowel?

    His point was ( I think) that vowel quality of the fat7a is altered by the presence of the Daad, and so in a strict linguistic sense there is a slightly different vowel in each case, making a less-than perfect minimal pair.
     

    Pivra

    Senior Member
    ...
    His point was ( I think) that vowel quality of the fat7a is altered by the presence of the Daad, and so in a strict linguistic sense there is a slightly different vowel in each case, making a less-than perfect minimal pair.

    yes, like that, the fat7a changes to a more "deeper" A. It sounds to me more like an open O than an A. And as for the sôifee thing, I thought with vowels you have to write a kasrâ underneath the Fa no? :( Because in my old old note I wrote As Saifi, Ash Shitaa'i, Ar Râbi3i, Al Khâreefi, and since where I learned Arabic is a tropical country we also learned al maTâri lol, sorry about the double I, I didnt mean to make it a mamdudah vowel. saami7ni, la taz3al mini. lol
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The example of تين and طين does differ in the pronunciation of the ي, as the ii vowel is more centralized under the influence of the emphatic consonant.
    That must be another difference I can't perceive in my own speech (although I've just said the two words to myself and I think I do detect a slight difference).

    ِAnyway, there's تيار (current) and طيار (pilot).
    Fortunately, we don't have to rely on minimal pairs. If you have the sounds [d] and [D] in the same phonetic distribution, and if they are also different sounds, then they are phonemes of a language, /d/ and /D/. ض can occur anywhere in a word, د can also occur anywhere in a word. ض and د are different sounds. They are not in complementary distribution and are therefore phonemes. [...]
    Ah yes, I forgot about complementary distribution. Good point.
    Elroy, I don't really get the vowel change, they are دَرْب and ضَرْب, so where is the different vowel?
    Clevermizo already took care of this one. :)
    And as for the sôifee thing, I thought with vowels you have to write a kasrâ underneath the Fa no? :(
    No, the ending is not always "i." There are many possible inflections depending on grammar and syntax.
     
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