10 de diciembre de 2009

Aspiraciones

Preparando con unos colegas una serie de descripciones fonéticas para un método básico de lectoescritura me topé con que muchas gramáticas del árabe no indican la leve aspiración de los fonemas /t/ y /k/, correspondientes a las grafías ت y ك (y no me refiero a la ت africada de los marroquíes que "tsetsean"). En un primer momento pensé que mi oído de no nativo me traicionaba y que, contrariamente a lo que yo percibo, dichos fonemas no se aspiran. Sin embargo, enseguida encontré varias referencias que confirmaban mi impresión, tanto para el árabe clásico como para el egipcio y el sirio, y en la mayoría de las cuales se tiene en cuenta la mayor aspiración de estos fonemas en inglés:
It is important to draw the attention of the reader that both in English and Arabic the plosive /t/, /k/ and /p/ (only in English) are aspirated; the should be occasionally transcribed as [...] to remind the learners in whose native language those sounds are unaspirated.
---Edward Y. Odisho, Techniques of Teaching Comparative Pronunciation in Arabic and English, 2005, p. 25.
The voiced plosives are fully voiced and unaspirated, whereas the voiceless ones are aspirated, with the exception of [q], which is never aspirated.
---Daniel L. Newman, "The phonetic status of Arabic within the world's languages: the uniqueness of the lughat al-daad", Antwerp papers in linguistics (2002), p. 67.
Although Arabic t (and k) are slightly aspirated in similar contexts, the aspiration is so slight in comparison with English that the learner should pronounce the Arabic consonant as his unaspirated st- (sk-) context.
---T.F. Mitchell, Pronouncing Arabic I, 1993, p. 42.
The ت t, like English t, is often aspirated (that is, it is produced with a slight puff of breath), while ط t is not aspirated.
---Peter F. Abboud, Ernest Nasseph McCarus, Elementary Modern Standard Arabic: Pronunciation and Writing; Lessons 1-30, 1983, p. 32.
/k/: The most common allophone is a velar voiceless aspirated stop. [...] /t/: The most common allophone is a voiceless dental aspirated stop. In final position, /t/ is in free variation, either aspirated released or unreleased —mostly released.
---Salman Al-Ani, Arabic Phonology: An Accoustical and Physiological Investigation, 1970, p. 32; 44.

Bohairic and Cairene voiceless stops are aspirated. [...] Since the aspiration of voiceless stops is also a feature of classical Arabic, such aspiration in Cairene Arabic may be considered original.
---Wilson B. Bishai, "Nature and Extent of Coptic Phonological Influence on Egyptian Arabic", Journal of Semitic Studies, 6 (1961), p. 175.
Voiceless Dental Stop. Differs from English t in the same respect as d from English d; generally somewhat less aspirated than English t in 'take'. [...] Voiceless Stop. Like English k, its point of articulation varies between mediopalatal and velar, depending on neighboring sounds. It generally has somewhat less aspiration in release than English k, an is often unreleased finally.
---Mark W. Cowell, A Reference Grammar of Syrian Arabic, 2005, p. 3-4.

Y de la misma opinión es Wolfdietrich Fischer (A Grammar of Classical Arabic, 2002, p. 19, n. 2), en cuyo caso merece la pena detenerse por el curioso reproche ad verecundiam que le hacía el difunto Alan S. Kaye en una reseña de la obra:
Fischer states that /t/ is aspirated. There is no mention of aspiration in W.H.T. Gairdner, The Phonetics of Arabic (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1925), 15-17, nor in Wright, 1:5, in which Arabic /t/ is compared to the Italian dental, i.e., without aspiration.
Y que le lleva a uno a preguntarse cuánto hay de percepción o contraste y cuánto de imitación (en este caso no ciega, sino más bien sorda) en la descripción tradicional de estos fonemas, y qué repercusiones tiene todo esto desde un punto de vista didáctico.

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