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Summary Details

Query:   Uighur Minimal Pairs
Author:  Jennifer Seale
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Phonology

Summary:   The following are responses that I recieved on my question regarding minimal pairs in Uighur. It has been suggested I post them so that we all may benefit. Thank you so much for your replies!

Hello Jennifer,

I'm assuming you've already looked at Ronald Hahn's ''Spoken Uyghur''? The review of it was pretty scathing, but since I myself have used it and know the author (tangentially), I'd say that it's a good place to start.

There's also Vern Lindblad's work on vowels in Uyghur...

Vaux's work on Uyghur is found at the URL below and the refs can probably lead you to more data.


Dear Jennifer,

We had a lady from Xinjiang to teach us Uighur about ten years ago at SOAS University of London. I agree, it is a fascinating language.

I have a few ''minimal pairs'' that I use to illustrate various phonological peculiarities of Uighur, compared with Turkish for example.

1. Firstly, Uighur has a phenomenon similar to some speakers of British English who insert a linking r, eg. shah - r - of Persia, vanilla -r- icecream etc.

Uighur baha ''price, value'' and bahar ''spring, season''
baha-r-im and bahar- im (1st p. poss)

Both these words are exceptions in the sense that they do not obey the so-called ''umlaut'' rule, whereby we would predict *bahirim. This has to do with their origin in Arabic or Persian (I think) and the fact that the vowel a is long in their original language. (Also baha should become baham and not baharim if it behaved regularly)

2. The other phenomenon is a/i alternation (mentioned above), which can make apparent minimal pairs.

at ''horse'' itim ''my horse'' itimda/itimde ''my horse(loc)''

et ''meat'' itim itimde

it ''dog'' itim itimde (although this may be pronounced sht, shtim etc).

3. This alternation fails in another pair of words.

bala ''child'' balisi (3p.poss)

bala ''disaster'' balasi (3p poss). Again an Arabic word with original
final long vowel and missing consonant.

This is probably not the kind of information you are looking for. You need check with a speaker to be sure about minimal pairs.

What are you working on at the moment, and what framework do you use? I practise what has been described by one of my aquaintances as a ''rogue framework'', namely Government Phonology. I have an old (1993) paper on this Uighur a-i alternation but not available at the moment in pdf format.

Good luck with your collection of data.

Yours sincerely, Ann

LL Issue: 15.3208
Date Posted: 15-Nov-2004
Original Query: Read original query


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