Exter, Mats (2008). Properties of the Anterior and Posterior Click Closures in N|uu. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.


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In this dissertation, the phonetic and phonological system of N|uu is described and analyzed. The dissertation is based on original fieldwork by the author. As is shown at the outset in Chapter 2, N|uu is a Tuu (formerly 'Southern Khoisan') language of the Kalahari region of South Africa. It is a severely endangered language on the verge of extinction, spoken at the time of writing by less than ten elderly speakers. At the same time, it is a phonetically and phonologically highly complex language, most notably including a large number of phonologically contrastive click consonants. In Chapter 3, an overview of the entire phoneme inventory is presented for the first time, including not only the click subsystem (here, the terms simultaneous release vs. sequential release are introduced), but also the non-click consonants and vowels, as well as the as yet unanalyzed lexical tone system. Then, in Chapter 4, the phonological structure of N|uu is analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively, and the foot is for the first time identified as a fundamental organizing unit in the prosodic system of the language. Also, the complexity of phonological words in N|uu is shown to be considerably greater than previously thought. Chapter 5 presents two detailed experimental case studies (one on the anterior click closure, one on the posterior click closure) that help to shed some light on our understanding of the underlying representation of clicks. In the first of these studies, the so-called Back Vowel Constraint (BVC; a constraint that states that certain click types only occur before back vowels, while other click types co-occur freely with all vowels) in N|uu is analyzed in terms of differences in tongue shape in the different categories of clicks. In the second study, stiffness is identified as an articulatory parameter in N|uu. Finally, in Chapter 6, a synthesis of the new insights gained in the previous chapters is attempted in the form of a novel scheme for categorizing and transcribing clicks. In this context, the categorical terms deep concave vs. shallow concave are introduced for the systematic tongue shape differences in clicks, and the terms tense vs. lax are proposed to capture the categorical effect of articulatory stiffness in clicks.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Exter, Matsexter@phil.uni-duesseldorf.deUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-49795
Date: 19 November 2008
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 1: Kunstgeschichte, Musikwissenschaft, Medienkultur und Theater, Linguistik, IDH > Institut für Linguistik
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Other languages
Uncontrolled Keywords:
N|uu, Khoisan, phonetics, phonology, click, foot, Back Vowel Constraint, BVC, tongue shape, stiffnessEnglish
N|uu, Khoisan, Phonetik, Phonologie, Schnalz, Fuß, Back Vowel Constraint, BVC, Zungenform, SpannungGerman
Date of oral exam: 30 January 2009
NameAcademic Title
Sasse, Hans-JürgenProf. Dr.
Grice, MartineProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/4979


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