The Sound System of Kāmviri

     The symbols in the following table stand for the distinctive speech processes that produce the sounds of Kāmviri. These symbols are used in lieu of customary phonetic symbols, which are not yet handled by most web browsers.

Articulatory Location
Lip Tongue Nasal Pharynx Glottis Larynx
  tip up tip down        
front back front back
Stricture Type dental alveolar palatal velar
Affricates ē C c  
z or 3
J j [vcd]
Stops p t T   k (q) (>)
b d D g   [vcd]
Spirants (f) s S š (x) (H) (h)
v (z) Z (2) (G) (<) [vcd]
Flaps upward     r    
forward   (R)
Lateral l  
ń [nas]
m n N Ń [nas]
Vowels Close u   i a ˜
ü   [frn]  
Open normal o   e ā
wide (å)
Pitch Accent secondary   `,^,
primary   `,^,

full drop   .
rising   ?
steady   ;
half drop   ?!
Register Shift   "

     Symbols enclosed in parentheses represent foreign sounds not fully integrated into the traditional Kāmviri sound system. The symbols [vcd], [nas], and [frn] represent coproduced components of the sounds listed to their left in the row. The three accentual symbols occur before an accented word and denote the position of accent as follows: ` = accent on first syllable, ^ = accent on second syllable, = accent on final syllable (of a word-stem). The latter accent occurs only with polysyllabic words of foreign origin, following the Persian accentual pattern.
     Background shades of gray and pink indicate sounds whose components cooccur with those of adjacent sounds, when the sounds are produced with the close transition normal within a word.
     Shades of gray indicate sounds whose production is subject to intervocalic laxing; this causes such sounds to become voiced, and additionally causes the back stops to become flapped. The shading indicates the portion of Kāmviri speakers that lax the sounds: dark gray = all speakers; medium gray = most speakers, especially those of KombRom; light gray = most speakers, but the sound (t) is laxed only in the conjunctive participial suffix -ti (which becomes phonetically -di).
     Shades of pink indicate sounds whose production affects certain following sounds. Nasal sounds voice a following consonant. Palatal consonants palatalize a following a, so that it is pronounced as i; palatal vowels palatalize a following velar consonant or sequence [velar]a (which becomes phonetically [velar]i); labial vowels labialize the same sequence ([velar]a becomes phonetically [velar]u). The shading indicates the portion of Kāmviri speakers that produce the affect: medium pink = all speakers, light pink = some speakers.
     An a takes on the features of an immediately preceding vowel, thereby acting as a vocalic lengthener.

     This system of transcription indicates word boundaries for clarity. As stated above, sounds within a word are produced in close transition, which implies the overlapping (coarticulation) of certain articulatory components of adjacent sounds. Across a word boundary (normally indicated by a space) sounds are normally produced in lexical transition, in which fewer types of components overlap. However, the sounds across some word boundaries may be produced in close transition, in which case the words are linked together by an underline (_) rather than separated by a space. In some cases the transition from one word to the next is even closer, with the loss of a sound adjacent to the boundary; words with such syncopated transition are linked by an equal sign (=). Words of foreign origin may be joined in accentual transition by a plus sign (+), indicating that such words are to be treated as a unit in applying final-syllable accent.
     Within certain words the normal componential overlap between sounds is blocked by an open transition, symbolized by a raised dot (·). Likewise, the normal overlap of lexical transition may be broken, as indicated by a comma (,).
     The types of transition are summarized in the following table.

Lexical Close Syncopated Accentual Open Broken
[space] _ = + · ,

     Expressive lengthening is a salient feature of Kāmviri discourse. A pre-accentual consonant may be lengthened to indicate augmentation; an accented vowel may be lengthened with rising pitch to indicate diminution, and in a couple of words the accented vowel may be lengthened with a second stressed peak to indicate exaggeration. Lengthened sounds are indicated by italics, and two-topped vowels by italics and underlining, as summarized in the following table.

Expressive Lengthening
Consonantal Vocalic Rising Vocalic Two-Topped
[italics] [italics]

     The basic articulatory posture for Kāmviri consists of the apex of the tongue behind the lower teeth and the root of the tongue raised, so that the body of the tongue is thrust slightly upward. The jaw is almost closed, the velum is raised to close off the nasopharynx, and the glottis lacks turbulence. This posture produces the vowel a, which is in traditional phonetic terms a high central unrounded vowel. The raised tongue root is linked with a raised larynx, producing a characteristic pitch for unstressed vowels of about an octave above the pitch of a relaxed larynx.

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First posted 29 Dec. 1997     Last modified 30 June 1999

Copyright © 1997-1999 by Richard F. Strand