Post-nasal devoicing in Tswana

Andries W. Coetzee, Susan Lin, Rigardt Pretorius

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Tswana is traditionally described as having a process of post-nasal stop devoicing (/mba/ → [mpa]). If this description is accurate, then Tswana poses a challenge to views that neutralization processes should be articulatorily grounded. Airflow leakage through the nasal cavity should promote, not inhibit, voicing post-nasally. Zsiga et al. [1] performed an acoustic study of the speech of 6 Tswana speakers, and found no evidence of post-nasal devoicing. They conclude that, counter to the traditional descriptions, Tswana does not have post-nasal devoicing. In an independent study, we collected speech samples from 12 Tswana speakers. Four of our speakers showed clear and consistent post-nasal devoicing. In this paper, we present the data for these 4 speakers to show that at least some speakers of Tswana do have an active process of post-nasal devoicing. We also consider possible explanations for this process, arguing that it is motivated by perceptual rather than articulatory considerations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS XVI)
EditorsJurgen Trouvain, William J. Barry
Place of PublicationGermany
PublisherUniversität des Saarlandes
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9783981153514
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Congress of Phonetic Sciences (16th : 2007) - Saarbrücken
Duration: 6 Aug 200710 Aug 2007


ConferenceInternational Congress of Phonetic Sciences (16th : 2007)


  • Post-nasal devoicing
  • Tswana


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