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Voiced ejectives (was Simafira : Phonetics)

From:Paul Roser <pkroser@...>
Date:Wednesday, September 5, 2001, 16:27
Thomas Weir wrote:
> Jesse Bangs wrote: > > I don't think voiced ejectives exist, and I'm pretty sure that > > they're physically impossible.
They are - implosives (glottalic ingressives) may be voiced OR voiceless, but ejectives (glottalic egressives) may only be voiced. That said, some languages have reflexes of ejectives with a very short voice onset time (the time between the release of the stop and the start of the following vowel) which may sound similar to voiceless unaspirated stops and in some cases the glottalic mechanism has weakened to the point that it has been replaced by creaky voice, so, although these stops may on historical or comparative grounds be labelled ejectives, they are no longer truly ejective. In other languages the delay of the onset of voice is much greater (we're talking about milliseconds here). This has been documented by J. C. Catford for the various languages of the Caucasus - all possess ejectives, but in some languages the ejectives have much briefer voice onset or have weakened to creaky voiced stops (IIRC Kabardian falls into the latter group, while the Adyghe dialect Bzhedugh has retained more fortis ejectives with longer lag times - necessitated, perhaps, by the presence of four series of stops in Bzhedugh: voiceless aspirated, voiceless unaspirated, voiced, and ejective, while Kabardian has only three: aspirated, voiced, ejective)
> FWIW, England, in her _A Grammar of Mam, a Mayan Language_ > writes (p. 26): > > "The glottalized occlusives are unit phonemes which contrast with > plain occlusives plus glottal stop. Phonetically, /tz' ch' tx' ky' > k'/ are ejectives, with glottal closure occuring simultaneously or > preceding the onset of oral closure. /b' q'/ are implosives. > /t'/ varies between ejective and implosive, depending on the
> ejective and implosive, depending on the speaker. The imploded > bilabial /b'/ is always voiced in initial or medial position, but > is devoiced finally; /t'/ is voiced initially and medially, and > devoiced finally; /q'/ is partially voiced initially and medially, > and also devoiced finally."
Either this refers to the creaky voiced stop that replaces ejectives, or to an implosive. At least one language, Lendu, a Nilo-Saharan language spoken in the Congo, is reputed to have a phonemic contrast between voiced and voiceless implosives, as well as 'vowelless' syllables (syllabic /z/ and trill /r/, which contrast between 'clear' and 'dark' (produced with advanced tongue root vs neutral or retracted tongue root, similar to the vowel systems in a number of African languages). The reason true voiced ejectives are not possible is that in an ejective the glottis is closed during the production of the stop, which prohibits the vibration necessary for voicing. I can't recall why voicing is possible with implosives, but dimly recall that it is connected with the ingressive nature of those segments. A few Khoisan languages (Zhu'/oansi, !Xoo) have what are called voiced ejectives, but these are actually prevoiced ejectives [bp', dt', gk'] or sequences of voiced stop plus (voiceless) ejective. The glottis vibrates at the beginning, then closes to produce the ejective. Regards, Paul


Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>