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Recently I posted a query about clicks in Sesotho and Setswana, and
gratefully received responses from these people;
It turns out I was wrong about Setswana - it doesn't have clicks at all.
The sound I was hearing is an alveolar closure released laterally with
glottalic (or ejective ) airstream.
Sesotho has a click at only a single place of articulation. This is
generally described as palato-alveolar, but Tore Janson suggests that "in
languages without any contrast in place of articulation there tends to be
considerable individual and/or social variation in the actual
This Sesotho click has plain, aspirated, and nasal manners of articulation,
the first two written as q and qh respectively. The nasal ?? no-one
mentioned its orthographic representation.
Both these languages have been studied in some detail. Katherine provided
these two references for general grammars;
Cole, D. T. 1955. An introduction to Tswana grammar. Cape Town: Longman.
Doke, C. M. & Mofokeng, S. M. 1957. Textbook of Southern Sotho grammar.
Cape Town: Longman.
and Shamila provided these two (undated) references that are specifically
An Introduction to Sesotho Phonetics
LJ Kock & RH Moeketsi
Marius Lubbe Publishers
An Introduction to Tswana Phonetics
Marius Lubbe Publishers
Larry Horn included information about Xhosa;
"In the southern Bantu language of Xhosa, Q, X, and C are used for
domal/retroflex, lateral, and alveolar/dental clicks respectively. The
orthographic TL you mention for Setswana sounds like the Xhosa X click, and
the Q like the Xhosa C. Very confusing. As for the QH, at least in Xhosa
clicks can be (post)aspirated, and that's what the H indicates. (There are
also prenasalized and "voiced" clicks--the latter I'm told by phoneticians
is an articulatory misnomer, but phonologically such clicks, indicated by
an orthographic G before the position indicator (as prenasalized clicks are
marked by orthographic N), fall together with "real" voiced consonants in
their affect on the tone of a following vowel."
My thanks to all who replied. This list is really a fabulous tool for
finding prompt, friendly, and expert advice, isn't it.
Dr Nicholas Reid
School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
University of New England
Armidale 2351, AUSTRALIA
ph: +61 2 6773 3400
fax: +61 2 6773 3735
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