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  • Base articulatoire arrière / Backing and Backnessed. by Jean Léo Léonard and Samia Naïm
  • Kimary Shahin
Base articulatoire arrière / Backing and Backness. Edited by J eanL éoL éonardand S amiaN aïm. Lincom Studies in Phonology 1. Munich: Lincom Europa, 2013. Pp. iv + 274. $190.00 (hardcover).

This book is a compilation of papers on postvelar sounds and sound systems from the conference “Backing and Backness / Base Articulatoire Arrière,” which was held in Paris on 2–4 May 2012. A wide array of issues involving glottal and pharyngeal sounds are addressed, primarily for Afro-Asiatic, Caucasian, Meso-American, Arctic, and Siberian languages. The chapters are organized into four thematic sections–the first on theory, models, and epistemology, the second on typological complexity (or fine-grained typology), the third presenting case studies and empirical approaches, and the last discussing methodological prospects–with the goal of illuminating the coordination of processes involved in glottal and pharyngeal systems. This general goal is met.

In the first section, Chris Golston and Wolfgang Kehrein’s “A Prosodic Theory of Laryngeal Timing” presents data on the timing of aspiration and ejection in many languages. They conclude that laryngeal timing is governed by prosody–specifically, whether the aspirated or ejective segment is an obstruent or sonorant and whether it is in onset or coda position. The data indicate a primary pattern whereby obstruents and sonorants have opposite timing patterns, and that some languages differ from this in [End Page 418]principled ways. No language is found with a pattern that reverses sonority in onsets and codas.

Joaquim Brandão de Carvalho’s “Why There Is No Backness: The Case for Dismissing Both [coronal] and [dorsal]” argues that segments specified as [coronal] or [dorsal] are better specified by features representing resonant cavity (pharyngeal or supralaryngeal) and aperture, with [coronal] and [dorsal] completely expunged from theory. This hinges on the argument–based on targeting of velars by assimilation, and coronal-tovelar shifts–that velars, like coronals, are underspecified for place.

Jean-Pierre Angoujard’s “Pourquoi il n’y a pas de pharyngalisation” presents a declarative government phonology account of emphasis spread in Arabic. A constraint is proposed that dictates the presence of emphasis on lexical emphatics and targeted segments. The typical nonemphaticness of palatal segments results from their constraint-specified incompatibility with the pharyngeal element. A complete account is not presented for cases where palatals have been typically analyzed elsewhere as blocking emphasis spread.

Daniel Petit’s “The Reconstruction of the Proto—Indo-European Laryngeals” explains the issues surrounding these segments, which are reconstructed based on secondary effects. The exact nature of the so-called laryngeals remains unclear. The issues and various arguments, dating back to Saussure, are explained as frequently very problematic. This chapter reads like an interesting detective story, and is an invitation for more focused scholarship to further our understanding of the Proto—Indo-European laryngeals.

In the second section, “Typological Complexity (or Fine Grained Typology),” John Colarusso’s “The Typology of the Gutturals” reviews uvular, pharyngeal, epiglottal, and laryngeal articulations. Topics addressed include “back” segment distinctions within a system using [constricted pharynx], like that of Chomsky and Halle (1968), contrasts within a single language, acoustic properties, phonological effects, and historical shifts, as well as secondary pharyngeal articulation and the Proto—Indo-European laryngeals, which might have been pharyngeals at some stage. Data are presented from various Caucasian and other languages. This chapter fails to incorporate some typological insights on gutturals from Esling (1996, 1999, 2005) and Shahin (2011).

Geoffrey Khan’s “Phonological Emphasis in North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic” surveys pharyngealization in varieties of North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic, for which he identifies three dialect groups, one in Iraq and Turkey, and two in Iran. Distinct Jewish and Christian subdialects are identified. Data are presented to illustrate the relevant distinctions between the groups and important diachronic developments, and the analyses are supported by detailed phonological arguments.

Samia Naïm and Janet Watson’s “La corrélation occlusive laryngovélaire dans des variétés néo-arabes et sud-arabiques” explains the Neo-Arabic and South Arabian obstruent systems in terms of the Proto-Semitic...


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