Over 1,000 languages are spoken in the African continent. They are classified into four major language families, i.e., the Afro-Asian, the Nilo-Saharan, the Niger-Congo and the Khoisan language families. Bantu languages belong to the Niger-Congo family. As an overview, the classification of the African languages, the language situation and some linguistic topics are briefly described in this article. In the following articles, some topics on phonetic and phonological phenomena of each language family will be presented and discussed by scholars specializing in the languages. The scholars are all field-workers and use mainly their own data collected in the fields. The following are their main subjects: (1) the sound system in the Afro-Asian family, referring to uvularization, (2) phonetic and phonological topics in the Nilo-Saharan family, (3) the click sounds in the Khoisan family, and (4) the tonological characteristics and velarized consonants of Bantu languages in the Niger-Congo family. Though, there are many other interesting phenomena in African languages that are not dealt with in these feature articles, the authors hope the reader will become interested in African languages.
This report roughly describes various consonant systems found in the Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic) languages, alive and extinct, with their characteristic features. Comparison is made on the appearences of laryngeals (uvular, pharyngeal and glottal) and doubly articulated (most probably ejective in Proto-Afro-Asiatic) phonemes. The new types of double articulation such as uvularization, labialization, pre-glottalization, velarization, and pharyngalization, including implosives, pre-nasalation and even a click, are described in each section of the sub-families.
The aim of this paper is to show the linguistically interesting tonal phenomena in Bantu languages which have been found by the author so far. In §1 difficulties of the phonemic analysis of tone often encountered in the research of Bantu languages are discussed. In §2 several tonal phenomena concerning nouns (especially, tone variations of nouns) are presented, and in §3 some phenomena concerning the tonal figures of verbs of a few languages are given. The languages dealt with in this paper include: Tonga, Nguni, Sambaa, Sotho-Tswana, Nande, Kikuyu, Kwanyama, Sukuma, Nkoya, Mongo, Herero, and Chaga (Machame).
The Shona language belongs to the Bantu languages and is spoken in most parts of Zimbabwe. The Zezuru dialect is spoken in the area around Harare. The velarized consonant is said to be a consonant with an extreme raising of the back of the tongue. In this article, the articulation of the first consonant is called the first articulation; and the articulation accompanying the raising of the back of the tongue, the second articulation. In the Zezuru dialect, the velarized consonants are opposed to non-velarized ones, and they have a stop, an affricate, a fricative or an approximant as the first articulation. In this article, the velarized consonants with the first articulation of a stop or an affricate are dealt with. Some acoustic characteristics of velarized consonants are analyzed in contrast with non-velarized ones using a sound-spectrograph. In the analysis, characteristics of the first articulation are compared with those of non-velarized consonant articulation, and those of the second articulation with those of the non-velarized /k, g/. As a result, these velarized consonants are characterized by a low F2 and its rising transition, as shown in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996). Furthermore, it should be noted that the velarized consonants in this dialect have two closures like a consonant cluster, i.e., the closure of the first articulation and that of the second articulation in most types. However, when the first articulation is a velar stop, there is only one closure, like a double articulated consonant, e.g., /pk/. Finally, the manners and their acoustic characteristics are discussed from the viewpoint of perturbation theory proposed by Öhman (1967).
This article provides information on the clicks which characterize the consonantal systems of Khoisan languages and their neighbouring languages. It discusses some issues of the framework for the description of clicks, and presents a brief survey of click systems sampled from a wide range of Khoisan languages in terms of click types and click accompaniments.
Nilo-Saharan languages have relatively simple consonantal systems. For example, the consonantal system of Nilotic languages comprises voiceless and voiced stops, and nasals at five points of articulation - bilabial, dental, alveolar, palatal, and velar. In addition, Nilotic languages have one or two fricatives (f, s), a lateral (l), a trill (r), and two semi-vowels (w, y). Southern and eastern Nilotic languages developed tonal systems in compensation for the loss of the distinctive opposition between voiceless and voiced stops. A characteristic feature of the Nilotic consonantal system is a consonant alternation in which voiceless stops alternate with voiced stops, stops alternate with fricatives, and simple stops alternate with reduplicative stops morphophonologically. Most Nilo-Saharan languages show 5×2 vowel systems, which are structured into tongue-root-position-based vowel harmony systems of the "cross-height" type. Some languages lost [+ATR] /a/. Others lost [-ATR] /i/ and /u/.
This study found that segment duration is perceived categorically in Japanese. Using a speech time-scale modification algorithm, PICOLA plus 2, the nonword /kesonato/ pronounced by a native Japanese male was manipulated to generate stimulus continua. The durations of /s/, /n/, /a/, and /t/ closure interval were manipulated in four continua. In the first experiment, three stimulus pairs which had the same disparity in duration were selected from the short, long, and middle region of each continuum. Forty-eight randomized trials were presented to twenty native Japanese, who were asked individually to distinguish the stimuli by the ABX method. Pairs from the short and long regions of the continua were not accurately discriminated while pairs from the middle region were. In the second experiment, 44 stimuli were selected from every continuum. They were presented to the subjects for identification in Hiragana (Japanese characters). The second result demonstrated the existence of a moraic phoneme boundary paralleling the discrimination peak in the first experiment. This research concluded that native Japanese perceive the duration of relatively steady-static sounds categorically. And also it is suggested that native Japanese utilize an automatic duration detection routine.
Japanese strings with a certain duration of vowels and plosives are perceived as strings with geminated plosives. To some extent, the same is true with English strings. What differs between Japanese strings and English strings and what exactly controls the gemination perception of English strings are not yet clear. Arai & Kawagoe (1996) showed that syllable types affect the perception ratio of English strings. This paper reports the perception ratios obtained from a test using three pseudo English strings as stimuli with constant vocalic and plosive duration. The results show some significant differences among the three syllable types. And also, unlike Japanese strings, pseudo English strings with longer vocalic duration do not need longer plosive duration to be perceived as geminate.