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The velar plosives /k/ and /g/

Afrikaans /k/ is a voiceless velar plosive; its voiced counterpart is the loan phoneme /g/(Van Wyk 1977)(Le Roux and Pienaar 1927); (Kent 1992)(MacKAy 1987). (Rietveld 1997). A possible feature specification of /k/ is -sonorant, -voice, -coronal, -anterior, - continuant. Unlike the situation with the other two voiced plosives, /b/ and /d/, /g/ is not susceptable to the phonological process of final devoicing, as /g/ is not likely to occur in syllable-final position, bar some highly restricted occurrences in proper names where /g/ could possibly be present. The occurrence of /g/ is restricted to loan words in a few Afrikaans onsets (such as in gholfgolf). [g] is, in addition, sometimes the result of regressive voicing assimilation (SEE Alternation with /g/ below.)

[+] Phonotactic behaviour of /k/

Like the other two voiceless plosives, /t/and /p/, the velar consonant /k/ regularly functions as a singleton onset consonant (1)(a); furthermore, an onset cluster of two or three consonants is possible, in which case C2 is one of the liquid sonorants /l, r/ as in (1)(b):

Example 1

a. kat cat
b. krag strength; power  ; klag complaint

Next to the common occurrence of /r/ in (1)(b), as second consonant in the onset, /w/ occurs in the same position in a small number of Afrikaans words, like kweek/kvek/[kwek]culture (v.)In some idiolects, the approximant [ʋ], as an allophone for /v/, is not unlikely.

Other than in Dutch, where /x/ functions as second consonant in triconsonantal clusters (/sxr/), in Afrikaans /k/ takes up this position, with /r/ the sole possibility as third member, e.g. in (2)(a):

Example 2

a. skree shout

/k/ can occur in simple and complex codas, such as in (3)(a) - (3)(b):

Example 3

a. tak branch
b. hark rake

In complex codas such as (3)(b), apart from /r/ as first consonant, /l/ (in dalk) and the velar nasal /ŋ/ (in lank are regular possibilities .

//k/ is also a common segment intervocalically, as in (4):

Example 4

a. seker surely  ; wakker awake  ; suiker sugar
[+] Alternation with /g/

[g] can be the phonetic result of voicing assimilation as in zak-doek za[gd]oekhandkerchief.

In a number of cases [g] alternates with /x/, as in the plural form of /bɛrx/mountain, viz. [bær.gə], or in some derivations of words ending on /x/, as in er[g]ernis from the basic word erg[ɛrx] .

Phonotactic behaviour of /g/
/g/ occurs in a restricted number of loanwords, mainly in onset position, as in garage and in gholf, from English, as well as from some indigeneous African languages, for example ghaai and ghaap. plant names /g/ does not occur in codas because of final devoicing.

[+] More detail

Afrikaans /k/ is a voicelessvelar and /g/ is a voicedvelarplosive. /k/, like the other voiceless plosives /p/ and /t/, lacks aspiration.

Speech sounds that are produced at the velar place of articulation . See figure below:

Figure 1

[click image to enlarge]

A consonant produced involving complete closure of the articulators, a raised velum, followed by a rapid release. of built-up pressure.

The velar plosives may, due to V-to-V coarticulation, become palatal in onset position, when followed by high or mid-high front vowels, for example kies /kis/ [cis] choose

[+] Acoustic information

Sound waves (upper window) and spectrogram (lower window) of the nonsense words kaakak and gagagag.

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

Figure 2: Sound wave forms (upper window) and spectrograms (lower window) of the voiceless velar plosive /k/ (in the nonsense word kakakak) and the voiced bilabial plosive/g/ (in the nonsense word gagagag).

  1. The vowel of the second syllable of gagagag ([gɑ'gagɑk]is long; the rest of the vowels in this word as well as in [kɑ'kɑkɑk] are short.
  2. Release bursts of the onset plosive portion of both consonants, [k] and [g], are not clearly visible in these examples.
  3. Intervocalic silence gapsof voiceless[k] in kakakak are visible; no positive voice onset time (VOT) is present between plosive release burst and start of vowel, indicative of absence of aspiration of Afrikaans [k].
  4. In voiced [g], negative voice onset time ( -VOT , -prevoicing/ voicing lead,) is clearly visible in periodic waveforms in Window A, and in the black bars at the bottom of Window B.
  5. If released in word final position, the /k/ or /g/ is visible in the form of a silence gap between the end of a vowel and a word-final plosive burst (marked in dark blue).
  6. Final devoicing of /g/ in gagagag results in [gɑ'gagɑk], in which case absence of either wave patterns in A or black bars in B is evident.

  • 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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