Pronunciation of Q

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The phoneme /q/† has a large range of pronunciations - or allophones - in Mi'gmaq. A full list of the usual pronunciations found in the variety spoken in Listuguj is provided in the table below. Other pronunciations that are less general or are conditioned by other sounds are discussed in the sections Intervocalic Voicing, Word-Final Aspiration and Labialization.

Please note that these pronunciations may not be usual for other dialects of Mi'gmaq; some of the other reported sounds are discussed in Other Pronunciations, below.

It may be helpful for readers to be familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA, before reading this page, although it is not completely necessary: all letters in the IPA are linked to audio samples, so that learners and language teachers will have a reference point for the sounds discussed here.

† /Slash brackets/ indicate phoneme status; [square brackets] indicate allophone status.

Contents

[edit] General Pronunciations

Below is a table detailing the numerous general pronunciations of Mi'gmaq /q/ in the Listuguj dialect. It should be noted that not every speaker will use every pronunciation listed in the table, but learners must be aware that all are possible pronunciations of /q/ to make listening easier. It may be easiest to think of /q/ not as a single sound like /p/ or /m/, but rather a sort of "sound area" or "sound span" that covers all consonants pronounced in the back of the throat.

All pronunciation examples are taken from both Peter Ladefoged's online supplement to his textbook "A Course in Phonetics" and all examples are taken from the Mi'gmaq Talking Dictionary. All examples are then transcribed in the IPA and given an English translation.

General Pronunciations of /q/
AllophonePronunciationExampleTranscriptionTranslation
q [aqa] amjaqto'sit [amd͡ʒaqtoːs̬itʰ] 'he or she dabs him or herself with perfume'
ʔ [aʔa] algl'taqanatl [alˑgl̩ˑdaʔanadl̩] 'he or she walks about with it (animate) on a leash'
χ [aχa] amjimoqtesg [amd͡ʒimoχtɛskʰ] 'it (inanimate) is caught and stuck'
ħ [aħa] alisqotg [alisħotkʰ] 'he or she chews it (inanimate)'
h [aha] aloqoman [alɔhoman] 'grape'

[edit] Intervocalic Voicing

Main page: Voiced Obstruents

For some speakers (not all, as shown by the pronunciation of aloqoman in the table above), a /q/ located between vowels will be pronounced with voicing, usually as the sound [ʕ], a voiced pharyngeal fricative (although full voicing may not ever be achieved, as is the case with /s/, so it may be most accurately written as [ħ̬], if the ̬ is taken to indicate partial voicing). An example is provided below:

Voiced Pharyngeal Fricative
AllophonePronunciationExampleTranscriptionTranslation
ʕ [aʕa] alapilaqan [alabilaʕan] 'carrier; knapsack'

[edit] Word-Final Aspiration

Main page: Aspirated Obstruents

For most speakers, /q/ does undergo something similar to word-final aspiration in other consonants. However, instead of aspiration, /q/ is actually affricated in this instance - that is, it is pronounced much like the phoneme /t͡ʃ/, with a stop-like beginning and a fricative-like ending.

For a few speakers, /q/ patterns with the other obstruent consonants and is also aspirated, or pronounced with a small puff of air (which sounds like the letter h) afterwards. Both pronunciations are shown in the table below.

Word-Final Allophones
AllophonePronunciationExampleTranscriptionTranslation
q͡χ [aq͡χa] ala' q [alaːq͡χ] 'he or she swims about'
[aqʰa] alugwiaq [alugwiɑ] 'it becomes cloudy'

[edit] Labialization

Main page: Relating G and Q with GW and QW

All of the above allophones of /q/ are capable of being labialized - that is, pronounced with a following [w] or a rounding of the lips - in the appropriate contexts. A list with examples of all pronunciations is given in the table below; more details are given on the main page for this topic.

Labialized Allophones
AllophonePronunciationExampleTranscriptionTranslation
qw [aqwa] apajitqwa'majig [abad͡ʒitqwaːmad͡ʒikʰ] 'they reunite'
ʔw [aʔwa] amjimoqwa'toq [amd͡ʒimɔʔwaːdɔqʷʰ] 'he or she causes it (inanimate) to be stuck'
χw [aχwa] amjimoqwa'latl [am̥t͡ʃimɔχwaːladl̩] 'he or she gets it (animate) stuck'
ħw [aħwa] amqwanji'j [amħwand͡ʒiːt͡ʃ] 'spoon'
hw [ahwa] alqo' qweg [algoːhwɛkʰ] 'it (inanimate) is floating'
ʕw [aʕwa] alqo' qweg [algoːʕwɛkʰ] 'it (inanimate) is floating'
q͡χʷ [aq͡χʷa] ala'toq [alaːdɔq͡χʷ] 'he or she has it (inanimate)'
qʷʰ [aqʷʰa] amjimoqwa'toq [amd͡ʒimɔʔwaːdɔqʷʰ] 'he or she causes it (inanimate) to be stuck'

† Note: this particular instance sounds more like [q͡ħw], but a more conclusive example may be found.

[edit] Other Pronunciations

In other dialects of Mi'gmaq, /q/ is not pronounced quite as back in the mouth as in the Listuguj dialect, and is not as varied. Bragg in his 1976 thesis on Newfoundland Mi'gmaq records hearing [x] for /q/, with a voiced variant, [ɣ], between vowels. These are also the pronunciations reported by other Mi'kmaq communities. Fidelholz (1968) reports that "[q] is uvular, and intervocalically is a spirant", which I assume indicates that the general allophone is [q] and the intervocallic allophone is [χ]. These two pronunciations are also in line with what is reported by Father Pacifique in his description of Mi'gmaq sounds. These pronunciations are given below, with an example from Ladefoged's course book, as well as the environment in which they are found and their source.

Other Pronunciations
SourceAllophonePronunciationEnvironment (and Example)
Bragg (1976) x [axa] General Pronunciation, as in pitaq, pronounced [pidax], 'tall or long'
ɣ [aɣa] Between Vowels, as in inaqn, pronounced [inaɣən], 'right hand'
Fidelholz (1968) q [aqa] General Pronunciation
χ [aχa] Between Vowels

[edit] References

  • Bragg, Russel A. (1976). Some Aspects of the Phonology of Newfoundland Micmac. Masters' Thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Fidelholz, James Lawrence (1963). Micmac Morphophonemics. PhD. Dissertation, Massechusetts Institute of Technology
  • Hewson, John, and Bernard Francis. 1990. The Micmac Grammar of Father Pacifique. Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics Memoir 7. Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  • Ladefoged, Peter. 2006. A Course in Phonetics. 5th ed. Boston: Thomson Higher Education.
  • Mi'kmaq Pronunciation and Spelling Guide
  • Mi'gmaq Talking Dictionary
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