Below is the example from the Sounds of the World's Languages (SoWL) of contrasting bilabial and labiodental fricatives. Ewe, which
is spoken in Ghana, is one of several West African languages exhibiting this contrast.
See Ladefoged & Maddieson (2008, pp. 139-142) for detailed discussion of articulation and acoustics.
Notes on the sonagrams: High frequency energy is weaker in the bilabials.
Ladefoged & Maddieson (2008) report more lowering of F2 for the bilabials, but this is hardly visible here.
Double articulations in Ewe
The utterances from Ewe below demonstrate labial-velar double articulations.
Note in particular the combinations of double consonant plus /l/ in word- or
syllable-initial position (otherwise Ewe has virtually no consonant clusters).
Ewe is a tone language, but tone has not been indicated in the transcriptions below.
Also see the demo of labialization in
ag͜ble ag͜bodzedze ag͜bale ag͜bag͜badzedze
afɔk͜pa k͜posɔ nuk͜pɔk͜plɔ ak͜ple
apa ak͜pa aka k͜plu akutu ablotsi ag͜badɔ agutɔ ba ag͜bo bubu k͜plɔ klo
Ewe belongs to the 'Kwa' group of languages and is spoken in
Ghana and Togo,
West Africa. G. Ansre, writing in the 1960s, considers it one of the best documented
West African languages, and gives the number of speakers as nearly 2 million.
It is a good example of the quite numerous languages that contrast two stops in
the region from dental to what might loosely be called retroflex.
Ladefoged & Maddieson (2008) characterize the distinction as laminal dental (or
dentalveolar) vs. apical (post)-alveolar, the latter often being referred to (and
transcribed) as retroflex. See Ladefoged & Maddieson (2008, pp. 25-26) for palatograms
and further discussion. They feel that the apical sound shows only slight retroflexion,
possibly less than the retroflex sounds of Hindi,
which in turn probably has less retroflexion than the corresponding sounds in Dravidian
languages such as Tamil or Malayalam.
(1) The accent indicates low tone.
(2) Ladefoged and Maddieson (2008) use the subscript dot, e.g. [ḍ], rather than
the traditional IPA symbol used here, for slightly retroflexed sounds.
For sonagrams of both words
It is very difficult to see much difference in the formants. However, the dental
shows more noise in the region around 5kHz at stop release, indicating more affrication
than the apical retroflex. The greater amount of frication can also be seen in the timewave