The acoustics of guttural fricatives in three languages


  • Koorosh Ariyaee University of Toronto
  • Chahla Ben-Ammar University of Toronto
  • Talia Tahtadjian University of Toronto
  • Alexei Kochetov University of Toronto


Guttural consonants (uvulars, pharyngeals, laryngeals) have been phonetically under-studied, with previous investigations limited to a handful of languages. The goal of this study is to provide an acoustic analysis of voiceless and voiced guttural fricatives in Emirati Arabic (EA), Iraqi Kurdish (IK), and Lebanese Western Armenian (LA).

The participants were 59 speakers of these languages (18 EA, 20 IK, 21 LA speakers), residents of UAE, Iraq, Lebanon. The materials included real words with intervocalic target consonants, embedded in a carrier phrase. Audio recordings were performed using an online experiment platform, Gorilla. The data were annotated in Praat, with fricative noise duration and spectral moments extracted and analyzed statistically.

The results for each language revealed differences across 3-way (EA and IK) and 2-way (LA) place contrasts. Place differences were in the expected direction, reflecting the posteriority of consonants constrictions. Voicing differences were manifested in duration and spectral moments. Both results are consistent with previous findings for Standard Arabic. Cross-language analyses performed separately for each sound revealed differences in voiced uvulars, pharyngeals and /h/, representing variable, language-particular realizations of these sounds.

Overall, the study contributes to gutturals phonetic documentation; it also serves to confirm the validity of the online audio recording method.

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How to Cite

Ariyaee K, Ben-Ammar C, Tahtadjian T, Kochetov A. The acoustics of guttural fricatives in three languages. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2021 Aug. 17 [cited 2024 May 18];49(3):28-9. Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada