Phonemic whistled fricatives are reported in only a few languages, including several Bantu languages in what is traditionally known as Zone S. Unlike typical voiceless fricatives, the voiceless whistled fricative is a periodic sound with a relatively simple harmonic structure. In comparison to plain sibilant fricatives, whistled fricatives are marked by a relatively high-amplitude, narrow-bandwidth peak. While some diachronic and phonological analyses make use of the labial feature to explain the development and behavior of the sound, it is not clear that lip-rounding is necessary or primary for the production of the whistled fricative. In fact, it has been claimed that whistled fricatives in Zone S manifest little to no lip-rounding. In this study, the voiceless whistled fricative of a single speaker of Changana (Hlengwe dialect) is described with reference to both acoustics and labial configuration. It is observed that Changana's voiceless whistled fricative manifests a degree of lip-rounding somewhat less than the rounding that occurs in the non-whistled fricative found in [usu]. Because plain fricatives that happen to manifest coarticulatory rounding appear never to be whistled, it is hypothesized that a unique linguopalatal stricture may be the best differentiator of plain and whistled fricatives. These findings relate to the role played by secondary articulations in sound change.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSelected Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
Place of PublicationSomverville, MA
PublisherCascadilla Proceedings Project
ISBN (Print)978-1-57473-446-1
StatePublished - 2011


  • whistled fricatives
  • aeroacoustics
  • Bantu
  • Changana


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