A Phonetic Survey of Uyghur

Alexander Sugar, Richard Wright & Mutallip Anwar (University of Washington)

This paper provides a basic, concise description of the phonetic structure of Uyghur based on recordings from eleven native speakers. We use readings of word lists that target vowels in open and closed environments and consonants in word initial, medial and final positions to construct a phonemic inventory. We also use readings of a translation of the short fable The North Wind and the Sun to observe the prosody of Uyghur and note phonological changes occurring in actual speech such as vowel raising and harmony. Among the issues we discuss are the raising of the mid-front rounded vowel in non-initial positions and allophonic variation of the high unrounded vowel. The goal of this study is to synthesize previous descriptions of the language and build upon them with a careful analysis of our own recordings to provide a comprehensive discussion of Uyghur’s key phonetic properties for use in future descriptive and theoretical studies as well as pedagogy.