The complex and cross-linguistically uncommon phonological phenomenon of "emphasis" is best known from Central Semitic languages such as Arabic and Aramaic. It is, however, found to varying degrees in a number of non-Semitic languages in contact with Arabic. This paper describes how in Kumzari, an Indo-European language spoken around the Strait of Hormuz, uvular-pharyngeal emphasis has arisen through language contact and has proliferated through language-internal processes. Beginning with the retention of emphatic consonants in a direct, extensive lexification by Arabic dating back at least 1300  years, emphasis has progressively penetrated the language by means of lexical innovations and two types of sound changes in both borrowed and inherited vocabulary: (i) analogical spread of emphasis onto plain but potentially emphatic consonants; and (ii) a sound change in which z has been invariably recast as an emphatic with no plain counterpart. The role of the back consonants w, x, q and , which induce emphasis on potentially emphatic consonants in diachronic processes but not synchronically, highlights the unique way in which this complex phenomenon operates in one non-Semitic language in contact with Arabic.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Arabic, emphasis (phonological), Indo-European languages, Kumzari, language contact, pharyngealization, sound change, uvularization
Persistent URL
Journal Linguistics
Anonby, E. (2020). Emphatic consonants beyond Arabic: The emergence and proliferation of uvular-pharyngeal emphasis in Kumzari. Linguistics. doi:10.1515/ling-2019-0039