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The bilabial nasal /m/
quickinfo

/m/ is a bilabial nasal sonorant consonant, with a possible feature specification of  +Sonorant, +Anterior,-Coronal, +Voice, +Vasal. (Le Roux and Pienaar 1927)(Van Wyk 1977)

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[+] Phonotactic behaviour

/m/ can occur as singleton onset (1)(a) and as second consonant, following initial /s/, as in (1)(b).

Example 1

Onset
a. man man
b. smeek beg

Furthermore, it can occur in simple codas (2)(a), and in complex codas, such as in (2)(b), where the final consonant must be the homorganic voiceless plosive p . Underlying coda cluster /rm/ in (2)(c) becomes [rəm] due to schwa insertion, similar to the situation of /rn/ > rən (see ).

Example 2

Coda
a. kam comb
b. lamp lamp
c. kerm moan

/m/ often appears intervocalically, as in (3):

Example 3

Intervocalically
a. hamer hammer ; rommel rubbish ; mymer muse
[+] Articulatory information

/m/ is produced at the bilabial place of articulation (with a constriction at the lips). /m/, like other nasal sounds of Afrikaans, is voiced. (Kent 1992)(MacKAy 1987)(Rietveld 1997)

Nasal
Like all nasals, /m/ is a speech sound produced with a simultaneous oral closure and a lowered velum, allowing air to escape through the nose. See FIGUUR


Figure 1: The human speech organs

[click image to enlarge]

[+] Acoustic properties of /m/

In the example below the most important acoustic properties of /m/are shown. For purposes of comparison /nananan/ and /ŋaŋaŋaŋ/ are included.


Table 1
Sound Sound waves and spectrogram
[click image to enlarge]

  1. As in the case of the [n]-nasal, some diffuse energy is visible in especially the spectrograph (Window B) of the second and third [m].
  2. The low amplitudes of the waveform (Window A) are indicative of a low level of general energy. Diffuse energy is also to be seen in Window B in the spectrogram.
  3. Strong F1 formants of about 300 Hz and weaker F2's (about 1100 Hz) are visible. This is especially the case in the second and third [m].
  4. Intervocalic [m] nasals are about100 ms in duration in the present recording; the final [m] is notably longer.

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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