Original Articles

A re-evaluation of the Zulu implosive [ɓ]

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 30, issue 1, 2010 , pages: 1–10
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2010.10587331
Author(s): Shamila Naidoo, South Africa


In the course of experimental study of related linguistic areas, Traill, Khumalo and Fridjhon (1987), Giannini and Toscano (1988) and Best, McRoberts and Goodell (2001) suggest that the classification of [ɓ] as an implosive in Zulu is not accurate as this sound exhibits the traits of an explosive. Using the experimental framework, this article assesses the accuracy of this assertion. The corpus for this investigation is based on Doke's (1926) set of minimal pairs containing the Zulu explosive [b] and implosive [ɓ] sounds. A qualitative and quantitative examination of the parameters burst amplitude, Voice Onset Time (VOT) and closure duration (CD) are used to determine whether the Zulu [ɓ] is indeed an implosive. The results thereof find in favour of Doke.

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