A reinterpretation of lower-vocal-tract articulations in Caucasian languages
The articulatory interpretation and transcription of lower-vocal-tract sounds in Caucasian languages has long been a source of confusion. The Russian literature, notably by Kibrik and Kodzasov, provides insight into the auditory distinctions in Archi, Agul, and Dargwa, among others. However, the model of vocal tract articulatory function and the experimental techniques available in their time lacked precision in identifying the laryngeal and pharyngeal strictures and movements responsible for laryngeal/pharyngeal sounds. We reinterpret the pharyngeal, epiglottal, and pharyngealized contrasts in Caucasian languages using a model of laryngeal articulation that specifies degrees of laryngeal constriction, vibratory effects, and larynx height parameters. We focus on Archi, Agul, and Dargwa languages Mehweb and Shiri. Phonetic categories in the earlier inventories are assigned remapped articulatory definitions. The Russian researchers’ observations of degrees of epiglottis lowering are seen as an indication of the laryngeal articulatory mechanism constricting, with larynx raising, to form constriction.