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Phenemic Inventory of Great Andamanese*

Consonants

Manoharan (1989 pp:11) gives the following chart of phonemic inventory in Great Andamanese:-

 

Place of Articulationà

 

Stricture¯

Bilabial

 

 

Vl   Vd

Alveo-Dental

 

Vl   Vd

Alveolar

 

 

Vl   Vd

Retroflex

 

 

Vl   Vd

Palatal

 

 

Vl  Vd

Velar

 

 

Vl Vd

Post-Velar

 

Vl  Vd

Stop

Vl.  Vd.

p        b

t           d

ʈ          ɖ

c        j

k

Asp.

Slit

ɸ

x

Fricative

Groove

s

Nasal

 

         m

            n

        ɲ

      ŋ

Lateral

 

            l

Trill

 

            r

Semi-Vowel

W

y

Table 3: Phonemic consonants in Great Andamanese (adapted from Manoharan, 1989)

 

Compared to the above table the following table (adapted from Abbi, 2006 pp:23) illustrates the consonantal sound inventory of Great Andamanese.

 

 

Bilabial

Labio-Dental

Dental

Alveolar

Retroflex

Palatal

Velar

Plosive

p         b

t       d

ʈ           ɖ

ʈʰ

c

j

k

Nasal

          m

        n

         ɲ

       ŋ

Trill

            r

             ɽ

Fricative

ɸ        β

(f)

s

ʃ

(x)

Lateral

          lw

             l

Approximants

          w

y

Table 4: The Consonant Sounds of Great Andamanese (adapted from Abbi, ibid)

 

Out of these sounds, there are several which come only in particular cases and may not be phonemically distinct. The sounds that include in this list are /ɽ, β, ɸ, f, x, lw, y, and w/. Special mention must be made of one of the informants named Peje (58yrs circa 2006) whose phonemic inventory has some ‘aberrations’ as he frequently uses fricatives where other  speakers use plosives. This aberration was noted in Abbi’s fieldwork during 2001 and also given as peculiar sounds in Abbi (2006) where it is clearly mentioned that the following sounds are in ‘free variation at the intra-community level i.e. within the same clan’-

[ɸ ~ pʰ ~ f]

[β ~ l ~ w ~ lw]

[kʰ ~ x]

[s ~ ʃ]

Even the retroflex trill [ɽ] is in free variation in the same way with the alveolar trill [r]. The phonemic status of the approximants again is not clear. However, Manoharan (ibid pp: 21) finds /w/ occurring medially and finally and /y/ occurring in all the three positions, Abbi (ibid: 24) finds these two sounds occurring in all the three positions. Thus, if we take into account all of this there will be a total of 22 phonemes, including the approximants. This is just one more than what Manoharan gives in the chart above. However the difference of sound segments thus comes as follows.

 

First of all, the /k/ sound to Manoharan is post-velar and not velar; however its fricative counterpart he says is velar, which he says is a groove sound. Another peculiar phoneme he reports of is the bilabial slit /ɸ/. We could not validate this sound, rather what was found to be phonemic was its variant aspirated. In fact, as no phonemic analysis of the language is done in this dissertation, it is bound to build on what the others have said. What was found in the data elicited was, like most of the Aryan languages of India, continuum of the aspiration feature in the voiceless plosives at the junctures of the bilabial, dental, retroflex and velar with just one exception at the velar position. One does not know whether this is a recent influence of Hindi used by the speakers there or was there from the earliest.

 

 

Vowels

There is a consensus on the number of vowels used in the language and these are the following:

 

                                                            Front    Central             Back

                                    Close             i                                       u

 

                                    Close Mid           e                                 o

 

                                    Open Mid                ɛ                            ɔ

 

                                    Open                                          a

Figure 3: Distribution of Vowels in Great Andamanese

 

The vowel graph shown above is corroborated by both Abbi and Manoharan. However, both of them do not use the terminology used up there i.e. they use the terms high and low instead of close and open to describe the tongue position during vowel utterance.

* This has been extracted from the third chapterof the dissertation titled Developing a Computational Framework for the Verb Morphology of Great Andamanese by Narayan Kumar Choudhary at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-110067.

 
 

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