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Dagaare [a] Is Not Neutral To ATR Harmony

Avery Ozburn, Samuel Akinbo, Alexander Angsongna, Murray Schellenberg, Douglas Pulleyblank

Abstract


The literature on Dagaare (Gur; Ghana) describes a single low vowel, [a], which is neutral to ATR harmony [1]. This paper reports on an acoustic study of Dagaare <a>, showing that this description is incorrect. A list of sentences was elicited from five native speakers of Dagaare. Each sentence contained <a> in one of four verbal particles situated in one of four contexts: ATR __ ATR, ATR __ RTR, RTR __ ATR, and RTR __ RTR. Formants of the low vowel were measured and compared across contexts. Results showed a substantial, significant difference in F1 values and a smaller but still significant difference in F2 values in contexts where <a> is followed by an ATR word compared to when it is followed by an RTR word. All speakers and all particles showed the same pattern. We conclude that, contrary to previous claims, Dagaare has two distinct low vowels that are not neutral to harmony: [a] occurs in RTR contexts, and [ʌ] occurs in ATR contexts.  


Keywords


Speech Acoustics;

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