Arabic emphatic consonants as produced by English speakers: An acoustic study

Hesham Aldamen, Mutasim Al-Deaibes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations


    This study examines the production of emphatic consonants as produced by American L2 learners of Arabic. To this end, 19 participants, 5 native speakers and 14 L2 learners, participated in a production experiment in which they produced monosyllabic CVC pairs that were contrasted in terms of whether the initial consonant was plain or emphatic. The acoustic parameters that were investigated are VOT of voiceless stops, COG of fricatives, and the first three formant frequencies of the target vowels. The results of the native speakers showed that VOT is a reliable acoustic correlate of emphasis in MSA. The results also showed that vowels in the emphatic context have higher F1 and F3 and lower F2. The results showed that the L2 learners produced comparable VOT values to those of native Arabic speakers. Further, L2 learners produced a significantly lower F2 of the vowels in the emphatic context than that in the plain context. Proficiency in Arabic played a role on the F2 measure; the intermediate learners tended to be more native-like than the beginning learners. As for F3, the results of the L2 learners unexpectedly showed that the beginning learners produced a higher F3 in the context of fricatives only. This suggests that the relationship between emphasis and proficiency depends on whether the preceding consonant is a stop or fricative.

    Original languageBritish English
    Article numbere13401
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 2023


    • Emphasis
    • L2 Arabic
    • L2 phonetics
    • Second language acquisition
    • VOT


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