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The consonant inventory
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[+] Places of articulation for Afrikaans consonants

Bilabial
Bilabial speech sounds are produced with a constriction formed by both lips. See the human speech organs. Acoustically, bilabial obstruents are characterised by noise or noise bursts with a relatively flat spectrum (diffuse energy), and by formant transitions from and to adjacent vowels (all formants are usually lowered in the vicinity of a bilabial). Bilabial nasals show the presence of low frequency (~1000 Hz) anti-formants, or spectral valleys.

The Afrikaans bilabial consonants are /p/, /b/, /m/.

Labiodental
Labiodental speech sounds are produced with a constriction between the upper teeth and the lower lip. See the human speech organs. Acoustically, labiodental fricatives exhibit noise characterised by a relatively flat distribution of energy across the spectrum (no obvious prominence peaks).

The Afrikaans labiodental consonants are /f/ and /v/;/ʋ/ is an allophone of /v/in onset clusters, with plosives or /s/ as first member, e.g. in sweet/svet/[sʋet]sweat.

Alveolar
Alveolar speech sounds are produced near the alveolar ridge, behind the upper teeth. See the human speech organs. Acoustically, alveolar obstruents are characterised by noise or noise bursts with a centre of gravity (COG) upward of 4000 Hz. Afrikaans /s/exhibits notably higher COG values for alveolar obstruents than Dutch . Alveolar nasals have a spectral peak around 500Hz and a spectral valley around 1kHz.

The Afrikaans alveolar consonants are /t/, /d/, /s/, /n/, /l/, /r/. /z/ is found only in loan words, such as Zulu, as well as a result of regressive voicing assimilation, preceding voiced non-sonorant consonants (e.g. asbak/ɑs.bɑk/[ɑz.bɑk], and less frequently also sonorant consonants (e.g. asbak/ɑs.bɑk/[ɑz.bɑk])..

Palato-alveolar
Palato-alveolar speech sounds are produced slightly behind the alveolar ridge, towards the front of the palate. See the human speech organs. Acoustically, palato-alveolar fricatives exhibit noise characterised by a centre of gravity of around 3000 Hz. The centre of gravity is lower than that of alveolars.

The Afrikaans palato-alveolar consonants are /ʃ/, /ʑ/, both loan phonemes/ʃ/ is also frequently found as a product of coarticulation with preceding /r/, as in the word bars/bɑrs//bɑrʃ/burst.

Palatal
Palatal speech sounds are produced with a constriction involving the tongue body and the hard palate. See the human speech organs. Acoustically, palatal sonorants have a formant structure characterised by a relatively high F2.

The Afrikaans palatal consonant is [j].

Velar
Velar speech sounds are produced at the velum (soft palate). See VERWYSING: xref the human speech organs. Velar obstruents are characterised by noise or noise bursts with a relatively low centre of gravity (typically around 4200Hz), an acute noise peak at a low frequency (below 2 KHz) and one or more additional ones. Spectrograms show an identifiable formant structure, as opposed to fricatives and stops at other places of articulation; F2 is the most clearly visible formant. Velar sonorants have a formant structure characterised by a relatively low F2 and low F3, to the point where the two approach each other.

The Afrikaans velar consonants are /k/, /x/, /ŋ/; /ɣ/is an allophone of /x/ in cases where regressive voicing asimilation occurs, as in the word oogbank/ox.bɑnk/[uəɣ.bɑŋk]

Uvular
Uvular speech sounds are produced at the very back of the velum, close to or at the uvula. They may include vibration of the uvula (in trills and fricatives). See the human speech organs. Acoustically, uvular obstruents are characterised by noise with a low centre of gravity (around 4200 Hz) and a formant-like structure. Spectral peaks are around 1500 Hz, and a spectral valley generally occurs around 2500. Uvular sonorants have a formant structure characterised by a lower F2 than velars, and a relatively high F3.

The uvular trill [R] functions as an allophone of /r/ in some individuals; more frequently so in the southern parts of South Africa, especially in the Western Cape.

Glottal
Glottal speech sounds are produced in the larynx, by approximation of the vocal folds.

The Afrikaans glottal consonant is /h/.

[+] Manner of articulation for Afrikaans consonants

Plosives
Plosives are consonants involving a complete closure of the articulators, along with a raised velum, followed by a rapid release of built-up pressure behind the closure. Acoustically, they exhibit a silent phase, followed by a brief noise burst.

The Afrikaans plosives are /p/, /t/, /k/, /b/, /d/. /g/ appears in some loan words, especially place names.

Fricatives
Fricatives are consonants involving the creation of turbulent airflow through a narrow channel produced by the close approximation of the active and passive articulators. See the human speech organs. Acoustically, they exhibit aperiodic energy (noise).

The Afrikaans true fricatives are /f/, /s/,/x/, /v/, /j/. /j/ is generally typified as a fricative in the case of Afrikaans; sometimes as an approximant too. SEE above for the special status of /ʑ/ and /ʃ/ as loan phonemes, and [ɣ]as allophone of /x/.

Nasals
Nasals are speech sounds produced with a simultaneous oral closure and a lowered velum, allowing air to escape through the nose. See the human speech organs. Acoustically, they are sonorant consonants, exhibiting low-amplitude, vowel-like periodicity . They are typically characterised on a spectrogram by the presence of antiformants (spectral valleys).

The Afrikaans nasal phonemes are /m/, /n/, /ŋ/; [ɲ] shows up as allophone of /n/ in especially diminutive nouns, ending on /nt/, as in katjie/kɑɲ.ci/kitten.

Approximants
Approximants are consonants involving the free flow of air through a channel wide enough to preclude turbulent noise. Acoustically, they are characterised by the presence of formant structure.

The Afrikaans approximants are /l/, /r/, /ʋ/, /j/, /ɦ/. /j/ is also often seen as a fricative in Afrikaans.


Figure 1: Human speech organs

[click image to enlarge]

[+] Voicing values for Afrikaans consonants

The presence of the vibration of the vocal folds during the pronunciation of a consonant produces voiced sounds; the absence of such action of the vocal folds, on the other hand, creates voiceless nonsonorant segments, always being consonants in the case of Afrikaans. Therefore consonants involve an open glottis during speech, with the vocal folds abducted.

The Afrikaans voiceless consonants are /p/, /t/, /k/, /f/, /s/, , /x/; /ʃ/being the only loan consonant. Voiceless plosives lack aspiration, but may show some presence of affrication. The voiced plosives /b/ and /d/are basically characterised by the presence of prevoicing, although prevoicing frequently is absent..

The Afrikaans voiced consonants can be nonsonorant: /b/, /d/, /v/. or sonorant: /m/, /n/, /ŋ/, /l/, /r/


Figure 2

[click image to enlarge]
References:
  • Hoekstra, Eric2000Grammaticale functies van -E en -EN in het Westfries en het Fries en taalcontactgestuurde veranderingenTaal en Tongval52136-149
  • Rietveld, Antonius C.M. & Heuven, Vincent J. van1997Algemene FonetiekUitgeverij Coutinho
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