ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

2pSP35. Phonetic structures of an endangered language: Khonoma Angami.

Barbara Blankenship

Phon. Lab., Linguist. Dept., UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1543

Angami is a Tibeto--Burman language spoken in the Naga Hills in the northeastern part of India. This study describes the phonetic inventory of one of the smaller Angami dialects, Khonoma, which is spoken by no more than 5000 people in the extreme west of the Angami region. Data for the study include recordings of two female and four male adult native speakers, along with palatographic samples and aerodynamic data for selected phonemes. Khonoma Angami has 45 consonants, 6 vowels, and 4 level tones. The plosives have a three-way contrast in voice onset time; nearly all other consonants have a two-way contrast, including the nasals and approximants. Angami voiceless nasals are different from the common type exemplified in, for example, Burmese. Aerodynamic measurements show that glottal opening during Angami voiceless nasals lasts until after the supralaryngeal articulatory closure is released, whereas in Burmese the glottis closes well before closure release. Thus Angami voiceless nasals could be described as ``aspirated.'' The inaudibility of formant transitions between the nasal and the following vowel leads to interesting questions of how place of articulation is perceived in initial voiceless nasals. [Work supported by NSF.]