ASA 130th Meeting - St. Louis, MO - 1995 Nov 27 .. Dec 01

2aSC11. Clicks in a Chinese nursery rhyme.

Geoffrey S. Nathan

Dept. of Linguistics, Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale, IL 62901-4517

Clicks (speech sounds produced by velaric suction) have been reported in a number of African languages but have never been reported elsewhere in the world. However, several Chinese dialects have been discovered to use clicks in a special childern's version of a traditional nursery rhyme. This paper reports on the nasalized palatal clicks found in two different renditions of this nursery rhyme. The clicks replace normally occurring syllable-initial velar nasals in this special version, which apparently functions as a tongue-twister in those dialects that display this behavior. The clicks are completely integrated within the syllable structure of the words that they occur in, and sound quite similar to those found in Xhosa and !Kung. The paper will present articulatory descriptions and acoustic analyses of the clicks, and there will be an audio tape available for those who wish to hear the data. Some speculation on the origins and functions of the clicks will be presented.