The Sound System of khow`ar

Table 1.  The Phonemes of khow`ar.
Articulatory Location
Lip Tongue Nasal Larynx Glottis
  tip up [apical] tip down [laminal/dorsal]     front back
front back front back retracted    
Stricture Type apico-dental apico-alveolar lamino-alveolar dorso-velar dorso-pharyngeal
Occlusives Affricates ćh c̣h čh     [asp]
ć č  
(ź) () ǰ [vcd]
Stops ph th ṭh   kh [asp]
p t k q  
b d g [vcd]
Spirants f s š x h
(v) z ž ǧ [vcd]
Flap     r      
Laterals l
w   (ř) y
m n       [nas]
Vowels Close u     i    
Open o     e a
Pitch Accent primary    `   ´ 
secondary    `   ´ 
dropped   .  
steady   ,
high dropped   ?

Phonemic Inventory. The symbols in Table 1 stand for the distinctive speech sounds of Khow`ar, as spoken in southern Chitral around the village of N`aǧar.

Symbols enclosed in parentheses represent foreign sounds (v and ř) that may not be fully integrated into the speech of all speakers, or sounds of questionable phonemic status (ź and ).

The symbols [vcd] [voiced], [asp] [aspirated], and [nas] [nasalized] represent coproduced components of the sounds listed to their left in the row.

Phonation and Laryngeal Accent.  The normal unaccented phonation of vowels in Khow`ar is produced with anterior voicing and a concomitant front tensing of the larynx.*  With many speakers the front tensing produces a somewhat high-pitched phonatory register with vocalic voicing that tenses into a slight creakiness before a voiceless consonant.

Accented phonation is produced with either tight anterior voicing or posterior voicing, concomitant with the oral articulation of a vowel. Accented anterior voicing raises the pitch of the vowel, while posterior voicing lowers the vowel's pitch. There are two levels of accent, Primary and Secondary, above the level of unaccented phonation. The default accentual level is Primary.

Primary accented phonation is indicated by an accent mark (` for anterior voicing or ´ for posterior voicing) written before the accented vowel. The following pairs of words demonstrate the contrast between anterior and posterior accented phonation:

Table 2.  Accented Phonation Contrasts in Khow`ar.
anterior-voiced ` g`oḷ 'throat' ḍ`aq 'boy' ḍ`af 'frame drum' ḍ`uk 'lump' š`en 'rough' d`on 'tooth' ph`ox 'slowly' b`as 'overnight' b`ol 'army' wez`enote 'tonight'
posterior-voiced ´ g´oḷ 'gully' ḍ´ak 'hind leg' ḍ´ap 'level area' ḍ´uk 'side peak' š´en 'grape arbor' d´on 'ghee' ph´ox 'soft; loose' b´as 'flame' b´ol 'Plieades' wez´en 'evening'

The position of accent within words is distinctive. Accented phonation may occur on the penultimate or the final syllable in a simple, non-compounded word, as in the following word-pair:

Table 3.  Positional Contrasts of Accent in Khow`ar.
penultimate accent bèḷu 'straw bucket'
final accent beḷù 'pipe; flute'

Secondary Accent.  A secondary level of accent appears in multi-word sequences. Secondary accent may be produced by either anterior or posterior voicing. It is indicated by a lighter-faced accent mark: ` or ´. Compared to the normal, primary accent described above, the pitch of secondary accent is not as high for anterior voicing and not as low for posterior voicing. In compound words secondary accent falls on the normally accented vowel of a constituent word.

Accentual Sequences.  Mixed sequences of primary, secondary, and unaccented vowels appear in morphemically complex words as well as in general speech. Khow`ar speakers distinguish complex words with one primary accent only vs. words or phrases with one primary and one secondary accent, as seen in the contrast between mitar`i noǧor 'Mehtar's Fort', a place name with only one accented constituent, and mitar`i noǧ`or 'mehtar's fort', with two accented constituents (reminiscent of English "White House" vs. "white house").

The possible two-constituent accentual sequences in Khow`ar are exemplified in Table 4:

Table 4.  Accentual Sequences in Khow`ar.
Primary Accent on Initial Constituent
Primary Accent on Final Constituent
` g`ox šal 'a settlement in C̣hetrar G´ol'
mitar`i noǧor 'Mehtar's Fort'
kho-w`ar 'Kh´ow language'
gehta-g`ehti 'dusty'
geht-m`an 'dusty'
´ g´ol dur 'Valley House'
g´om dan 'popped wheat'
kaṭur-´e 'agnatic decendant of Kaṭ`ur'
kuško m´uḷ 'armpit'
` ` ko`it kiṭ`ori 'dried fig'
puš`ur deti paxt`i 'rice with meat'
ky`awat ky`awat 'sometimes'
m`už griṣp`o 'midsummer'
`iǧo ǧ`on 'identical'
an`o kah`ak 'mountain hen'
sin`o d`on 'river bank'
`i šor oče `i 'one hundred one'
g`oǧ-čaw`aṭ 'worms (in general)'
draǧ`anẓ-s`al 'famine'
b`išir ǰ`oš 'thirty'
mitar`i noǧ`or 'mehtar's fort'
han`isen d`i 'still'
buḷ`io l`enẓu 'birch-bark'
´ ´ s´ah´an 'a part of Oy´on'
bard´eyru ž´ur 'female ward'
kah´ak-m´aḷ 'chicken house'
dr´os-g´ol 'Dr´os Valley'
dr´on-h´anu 'rainbow'
b´ar-d´oyu 'porter'
g´oḷa-g´oḷi 'gully-covered mountainside'
čh´uy-b´oti 'late-night supper'
p´inga-čh´uy 'tomorrow'
´ ` xaḷ´aw-m`aḷi 'rat hole'
c̣h´irmuž-d`uri 'land farmed by peasant'
ǰal´aṣ-ph`uri 'scraggly-haired'
pinga-čh´uy-ping`ah 'two days hence'
br´ar-gan`iru 'blood brother'
deh´o loṭhor`o 'village elders'
b´oto w`axta 'dinnertime'
` ´ oxt`iri wez´en 'two nights ago'
ǧaḷ`uči ph´ur 'curly locks'
t`or kh´ow 'Upper Kh´ow'
nič`uht n´ey- 'slice'
gor`o har´en 'mica'
r`enio dr´o 'dog hair'
nir`ango h´anu 'dagger sheath'
kalkaṭh`ako ḍ´ap 'Kalkaṭhak's Flats'

Intonation.  Symbols for the intonational contours that terminate phonological phrases appear in Table 1. A proper account of intonation in Khow`ar requires further study.

Vocalism.  The articulatory processes of mandibular opening, lingual fronting, and labial rounding produce the five contrasting vowels of Khow`ar (see Table 1). The Khow`ar vowels fit a "standard" five-vowel system, with vowel qualities similar to those of Spanish.

Vowel Length.  Length is not a phonemically distinctive vocalic process in Khow`ar. Accented vowels, especially posteriorly voiced ones, are slightly longer than their unaccented counterparts; but such length is a by-product of the glottal tensing of accented vowels, with the tensing of posterior voicing taking longer than the tensing of anterior voicing.

However, sequences of two a's may occur through suffixation (hay`aa 'here' ← hay`a 'this' + -a [locative], žaǧ`aa 'instead of' ← žaǧ`a 'place' + -a [locative]). Such sequences are pronounced as a single long vowel, without hiatus.

Sequences of Vowels.  Dissyllabic sequences of vowels occur, without hiatus, as exemplified Table 5:

Table 5.  Vowel Sequences in Khow`ar.
V1 accent V2 accent no accent
r`auz 'musk deer'
(cf. s`awz 'green')
c̣h´ui 'hunger'
khošt`ien 'secretly'
hay`aa 'here'
ṣa`uk 'tight knot'
sipa`i 'soldier'
su`ir 'Suwir'
bo`ik 'bird'
ši´aq 'adobe'
di´ey- 'lactate'
xe`al 'thought'
xoǰa´e 'agnatic descendant of Xoja'
qo´ey- 'call'
piaḷ`ik 'Burusho from Pi´aḷ (Punyal)'
reis´e 'agnatic descendant of Reis'
boik`aḷi 'teal'

In words that end in y, the y drops before a suffixed -i to produce a dissyllabic sequence. Note the contrasts between:

Table 6.  y vs. i in Khow`ar.
monosyllable čh´uy 'dark'
c̣h´uy 'hungry'
dissyllable čh´ui 'darkness'
c̣h´ui 'hunger'

Consonantism.  The distinctive articulatory locations and stricture levels that intersect to produce the consonants of Khow`ar appear in Table 1.

Voicing. Consonants may be voiced or voiceless. Sonorants are by nature voiced. Distinctive voiced–voiceless contrasts appear among the obstruents, with voicing as the accentual ("marked") component. Occlusives may be voiceless unaspirated or voiceless aspirated, in addition to being voiced. Voiced and voiceless consonants may appear in initial, medial, or final position within an utterance.

Aspiration. Aspiration is a noisy, turbulent flow of air through the glottis. Aspiration may stand alone as a voiceless consonantal sound (represented by h) or as a component added to a voiceless occlusive consonant to form an aspirated consonant (represented by h following the voiceless occlusive's symbol). Aspirated consonants contrast with unaspirated consonants, which are released directly into a following sound without aspirational turbulence. Aspirated consonants do not occur in final position, but final h does occur (k`uh 'wide valley', `ayh 'up', etc.). Examples of unaspirated vs. aspirated voiceless occlusives include those in Table 7:

Table 7.  Aspiration Contrasts in Khow`ar.
Occlusive Unaspirated Aspirated
p p`ar 'cradle'
p`oṣ 'fertilizer'
p`on 'path'
ph`ar 'yonder'
phoṣ- 'quarry'
ph´on 'paddy'
t taǧ`ar 'from that one'
t`u 'you [sg.]'
tr`in 'watery curd'
trupč`ay 'salt tea'
th´aǧ 'twig'
thu- 'spit'
thr´inguḷ 'winnowing pitchfork'
thr`up 'radish'
ṭ´insk 'kind of bird'
ṭ`ong 'pear'
ṭh´ing 'slope'
ṭh`ongi 'small ax'
k k`ar 'ear'
kiṣmanž´a 'cultivated area'
kuṭ`u 'entryway'
k`eḷi 'ewe'
k`oṭ 'coat'
k`oḷ 'K`oḷ'
k`oli 'crooked'
k´oy 'he will do'
kow`arik 'kind of duck'
ky`aǧ 'what'
kh´ar 'vegetable garden'
khišm`iš 'raisin'
kh`uṭu 'lame'
kheḷ`i 'shield'
kh´oṭ 'cloud'
kh´oḷ 'bone'
kh´oḷi 'left'
kh´oy 'cap'
khow`ar 'Khów language'
khy`o 'what [obl.]'
ć ćoǧ`u 'orphan'
ć`at 'sufficient quantity'
ćh`ok 'wood chips collected for fire'
ćh`atur 'spindle for cotton thread'
č čang- 'lie (fib)'
čh´ang 'Jew's harp'
c̣`oktu 'above'
c̣h´oǧ 'thief'

Labial Consonants.  Labial consonants are bilabial, except for the spirants f and v, which are labio-dental. v only occurs in English loanwords (e.g., ḍr`ayv 'drive'; cf. ḍrayw`er 'driver'). Before front vowels f and w are lax bilabial spirants; otherwise w is a bilabial approximant.

Dental and Alveolar Consonants.  The back of the teeth and the alveolar ridge provide phonemically contrasting targets for the tongue's tip (apex), to produce dental versus alveolar consonants. In addition to apico-alveolar ("retroflex") consonants, the tongue's blade may articulate with the alveolar ridge to produce lamino-alveolar ("palatal") consonants.

The phonemic status of the voiced apical affricates ź and requires further investigation. These sounds have only been recorded after n. An alternative phonemic solution would be to recognize these as sequences of n + z or , with a homorganic affricating stopness automatically inserted at the transition from the nasal to the voiced spirant. However, there are a few examples of n + voiced spirant, as shown in Table 10. The contrast of affricate vs. spirant after n requires verification. If it holds true, then ź and are minimally phonemic, occuring only after n; otherwise, they are allophones of z and after n, and the sequence should be similarly analyzed as .

l is produced with the tongue's blade, giving it a palatalized effect. is apparently apico-alveolar with concomitant strong posterior voicing, giving it a pronounced "dark" quality.

r is an upward apico- or lamino-alveolar flap. The alveolar approximant ř is included here as a foreign (English) sound that occurs only in loanwords. Its usage beyond learned speakers of Khow`ar has not been verified.

Dorsal Consonants.  The dorso-velar consonants require no special comment. q is a voiceless dorso-pharyngeal stop, which lacks aspirated and voiced counterparts.

Nasal Consonants.  n assimilates to the articulatory position of a following consonant, becoming [n] before apico-dentals, [ɲ] before lamino-alveolars, [ɳ] before apico-alveolars, and [ŋ] before velar g. The phonemic sequence ng is pronounced [ŋg] before vowels and [ŋ] elsewhere. It is not clear if n assimilates to a following k or not. It is also unclear if the final n of a compound's first constituent always assimilates to an initial g of the compound's second constituent; in compounds like čumurkh´on-g´ol 'Iron-Shoe Valley' and dukan-g´ol 'Store Valley', is the first constituent's final n pronounced [n] or [ŋ]? If [n], then a junctural phoneme · (possibly representable by just a space between the constituents) must be recognized to distinguish the sequence ng ([ŋg] or [ŋ]) from n·g ([ng]).

Distribution of Consonants.  Single or multiple consonants may appear initially, medially, or finally in utterances.

Initial Consonants.  All single consonants may appear initially. Sequences of initial consonants include an obstruent, m, or w plus a non-nasal sonorant, as exemplified in Table 8:

Table 8.  Initial Consonant Sequences in Khow`ar.
First Consonant
labial dental alveolar laminal velar
r pr`aš 'rib'
pr`ušṭi 'before'

phr`etam 'I, we hit; I, we gave'

br´ar 'brother; male cousin'
bri´- 'die'
br`u 'eyebrow'
brež`ayu 'sister-in-law'
br`oz 'Br`oz'

fr`ax 'loose [clothes]'

mr`ac̣ 'mulberry'
mr`oy 'wild goat or sheep'

wr`azun 'wing'
wr`enz 'pneumonia'
trac̣`on 'carpenter'
tr`in 'watery curd'
tr`učing 'goat or sheep dung'
tr`ez b- 'crack [wood]'
tr`oy 'three'

thr`aṣ kor- 'dart out; go quickly'
thr´inguḷ 'winnowing pitchfork'
thr`up 'radish'
threšṭ`u 'onion'
thron`i 'kind of rose'

draz´ey- 'load up'
dr`iẓ 'gravelly slope'
dr`ung 'long; tall [animate]'
dr´ey- 'pour out (from a pot)'
dr´o 'single hair'

ćrax´ey- 'drizzle'
ćr`ik 'kind of bird'
ćr`ex 'spark'

sr`ung 'horn'
ḍrayw`er 'driver'
šruph- 'slurp'
šr`on 'hip'

žr`ex 'cartilage'
kr`uy 'red'
kr`em 'upper back'
kr`oṭ 'large dry log'

khrop- 'crow'

gr´ać 'tall millet'
gr`i 'mountain pass'
gr´uc̣ 'basting stitch'

ǧranu 'heavy'
ǧr`uć 'bunch of grapes'
pḷaxd`ini 'wild tulip'
pḷing´ay 'kind of bird'

bḷ`ać 'short [animate]'
bḷ`ik 'eyeball'
bḷ`ok 'flower bud'
kḷinz`u 'wart on hand'
kḷ`up 'hollow; dell'

gḷ`oć 'crotch of tree'

xḷ`ak 'phlegm'
xḷik- 'hiccup'
l bl`uš 'lukewarm'
y phy`u 'scapula'

by`oḷi 'By`oḷi'
ty`of 'kind of hawk'
(šokh`or)-thyon [place name]

ny`of 'nine'
ṣy`aḷ 'jackal'
ṣy´elio xam [place name]
ky`aǧ 'what'

khy`o 'what [obl.]'
w phw`ini 'bellows'

Final Consonants.  Aspirates do not occur finally, and the voiced occlusives occur finally only if bolstered by a preceding sonorant. The remaining consonants may occur singly in final position. Final two-consonant sequences include those exemplified in Table 9:

Table 9.  Final Two-Consonant Sequences in Khow`ar.
Final Consonant
labial dental alveolar laminal velar
Obstruents s p`ast 'low'
ph`ust 'tassle'
ph´ost 'skin'
h`ost 'hand'
b´osk 'thick [flat thing]'
h´osk 'straight; true'
ṭ´insk 'kind of bird'
br´onsk 'grassy place'
š x`ošp 'dream'
`ošṭ 'eight'
ṭh´ašṭ 'metal basin'
č`ašṭ 'lunch'
l`ašṭ 'flat'
h´ešṭ 'plow beam'
uč`ušt 'Uč`ušt'
r`ošt 'bright'
k`ušk 'lap'
ph`ešk 'bean; shell'
p`oṣp 'wool'
gr´iṣp 'summer'
ṣ`uṣk 'white clay'
n`aṣk 'beak'
[ocl]C ẓ`ac̣k 'cicada'
s`otk 'mature fruit bud'
[spi]C y`uft 'autochthon'

m`aǧz 'brain'
x ṣiǧ`ixt 'snipe'
ẓ`axt 'small firewood'
duw`axt 'door'
w`axt 'time'
b`oxt 'stone; rock'
h g`eht 'dust'
d`aht 'pus; ugly'
s`aht 'loom'
th´uht 'ford'

`ohć 'bear'
z`ehč 'yellow'
m`ahč 'chili pepper'
z`ohč 'animal hair'
Sonorants r ph´orp 'cattle corral'
w`arz 'head end'
y`urǰ 'falcon'
ř tenisk`ořṭ 'tennis court'
h´oḷk 'scar'
n g`and 'single-beam bridge'
sam`and 'camel-colored'

lays`ens 'license'

dahl`enz 'entry room'
wr`enz 'pneumonia'
l`enḍ 'knot'
gr`awnḍ 'playing ground'

c̣how`enẓ 'kind of bush'
kh´anǰ 'wall'
kḷ`inǰ 'Kḷ`inǰ'
ṭ`unǰ 'clay water jug'
g`onǰ 'storeroom'
ṭ`ong 'pear'
p`ong 'foot'
ḍ`ang 'hard; tight'
ṭh´ing 'slope'
ẓ`ang 'high'
sr`ung 'horn'
ḷ`ung 'hornless'
w s`awz 'green'
q`awz 'constipation'
y kum`ayd 'black [horse]'
ǧayr 'except'
ṣ´uyč 'kind of bird'
`ayh 'up'

Final sequences of three consonants include those in br´onsk 'grassy place' and gr`awnḍ '(playing) ground'.

Medial Consonants.  Medial consonants include any single consonant, any permitted sequence of initial or final consonants (see Tables 8 and 9), or any sequence of consonants formed from a permitted final consonantal string (of one or more consonants) plus a permitted initial consonantal string (of one or more consonants). However, geminate consonants do not occur (e.g., kh´ow + w`arkhow`ar, with one w), nor do sequences that violate the following sequential constraints on consonants.

Sequential Constraints on Consonants.  Among sequences of consonants, sequences of all obstruents must be either all voiceless or all voiced. No apico-dental + apico-alveolar sequence may appear, except in English loanwords (e.g., sṭ`iring 'steering-wheel', also pronounced ištir`ing).

Consonantal Sequences with n.  Sequences of n + consonant are exemplified in Table 10:

Table 10.  Examples of n + Consonant in Khow`ar.
Following Consonant
Stricture Type dental (n = [n]) alveolar (n = [ɳ]) laminal (n = [ɲ]) velar (n = [ŋ])
voiced stop and`aw 'fever'
kand`u 'wild almond'
kund`ax 'wild leafy vegetable'
rand`eẓu 'kabab'
sandal`i 'stool'
parkund`ić 'small lizard'
pand`ir 'kind of soft cheese'
h´end`aru 'wooden pry bar'

andr´en 'inside of house'
indroǧ`aḷi 'kind of duck'
čondr`uk 'feathery creeper growing on trees'
žindr`oži 'millipede'
zondr´e 'agnatic descendant of Zondur'

g`and 'single-beam bridge'
goḷb`and 'muffler'
b`end 'terraced field'
onḍ´or 'rice huller'
kalkanḍ´er 'kind of water bird'
kanḍaḷ`ak 'kind of reed'
xoranḍ´ok 'a part of Dr´os'
ḷ`unḍur 'timber'
lanḍ`i 'whore'
sanḍ`a 'male buffalo'
pinḍ´oru 'round'
pulmunḍ`uk 'butterfly'
hinḍ`al 'childless person'

l`enḍ 'knot'
gr`awnḍ '(playing) ground'
ang´ar 'fire'
ḍang´ey- 'bury'
šang`ur 'intestines'
čil´ingi 'hummingbird'
drung´ey- 'stretch out'

ṭ`ong 'pear'
p`ong 'foot'
ḍ`ang 'hard; tight'
ṭh´ing 'slope'
ẓ`ang 'high'
sr`ung 'horn'
ḷ`ung 'hornless'
affricate kḷinź`u 'wart on hand (temporary)'
xonź´a 'mehtar's wife'
ronź- 'shiver'
donź- 'dice'
ćrik`onźu 'wild spinach'

dahl`enź 'entry room'
wr`enź 'pneumonia'
c̣anJ̣´a 'torch'
c̣honJ̣`or 'stone bow'
draǧ`anJ̣ s`al 'famine'
l`enJ̣u 'bark'

c̣how`enJ̣ 'kind of medicinal bush'
anǰ´ey- 'send [something]'
khanǰ´oḷ 'large black songbird'
ǰonǰ`uruk 'raceme'
tonǰ´ey- 'destroy; lose'
sanǰ`ir 'main roof beam'
sinǰ`ur 'zizyphus (dry)'
panǰar`aš 'full moon'

šunǰn`eṭi 'packing needle'

gr`inǰ 'rice (hulled)'
š`unǰ 'needle'
p`onǰ 'five'
b`anǰ 'hollyoak'
spirant kar`anzo lašṭ 'Kar`anz's Flats'
ranzuri- 'shake'
wanz`i 'a place in Gombir G´ol'
kiṣmanž´a 'cultivated area for grain'
voiceless stop čint`a 'smart; industrious'
ṭanṭ`ey 'threshed corn stalk'
šonṭh`i 'slingshot'
(unclear if n becomes [ŋ]
before k)
kank`oṭi 'woodpecker'
ḍ`ankhoḷ 'ankle bone'
čank`araṭ 'kind of duck'
šankh´ur 'nightblind'
donkhal´eni 'toothpick'
sinkuḷ´um 'a part of Br`oz'
hayrank`oṭ 'a part of C̣hetr`ar'
affricate ćenćen kor- 'smash to pieces'
g´anc̣homik 'syphilis'
g´ančh`eḷi 'blowing snow'
čapanč`oṭ 'stairs'
spirant kḷ`insar 'walking stick with pick for snow'
lays`ens 'license'

ṭ´insk 'kind of bird'
br´onsk 'grassy place; lawn'
šunṣ´ayi 'pubescent boy'
aliph`anšap`ir 'hairy caterpillar'
yomunš`ali 'winter quarters'
pininšow´e 'agnatic descendant of Pininšow'
br´onšal 'a settlement in C̣hetrar G´ol'

Transition.  In Khow`ar transition from one phoneme to another appears to require little assimilation or overlapping of adjacent articulations, unlike in most of the neighboring languages. Whether a proper analysis of Khow`ar requires a junctural phoneme or not (see above) is open to further study.


* I follow Catford's (1977: 99ff.) nomenclature of phonation types.