Tee Language - Phonology


The Tẹẹ sound system is typical of an Ogoni language and identical to that of Khana, with the exception of four or five voiceless sonorants not found in that language. The voiceless w is also found in other Ogoni languages, and voiceless j and l are also found in other languages of Nigeria.

Tẹẹ has three tones, high, mid, and low. There are seven oral vowels, /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/, and five nasal vowels, /ĩ ẽ ã õ ũ/. All may occur long or short. The consonants are as follows:

Tẹẹ consonants
Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Labial-
central lateral plain lab.
Plosive p t k k͡p
b d ɡ ɡʷ ɡ͡b
Fricative s
Nasal (m̥)
m n ɲ ŋʷ
Approximant ȷ̊
ɹ l j w

A glottal stop appears before any otherwise vowel-initial stem. The alveolar consonants are apical.

Tẹẹ includes a rather unusual series of voiceless sonorants. The voiceless palatal /ȷ̊/ sounds rather like the voiceless palatal fricative, but is not as noisy (that is, there is not much random-frequency noise in its sound spectrum). Similarly, /l̥/ is a voiceless approximant, not a voiceless fricative *. The voiceless bilabial nasal, /m̥/, is only known to occur in one word, /àm̥èː/ (an unidentified abdominal organ), and then only for some speakers. All of the voiceless sonorants are actually voiced during the second half of their enunciation. That is, /n̥/ is pronounced However, they are considerably shorter than their voiced homologues, and hence cannot be considered /hC/ sequences with an otherwise unattested consonant */h/.

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