Macquarie University
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The Phonetics of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds: acoustic and articulatory studies

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posted on 2022-03-28, 14:30 authored by Saeed Saad Saeed Alsurf
Many of the phonetic aspects of Qur’ān (the Holy book of Muslims) are yet to be investigated experimentally. This dissertation aims to investigate the acoustic and the articulatory parameters of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised consonant and vowel sounds. The articulatory units of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised syllable require grounded experimental investigation to accurately identify their nature. This thesis consists of seven chapters. Chapter One provides a broad account of the aim of the study as well as of the Qur’ān as the source book. It also discusses the language and orality (primarily oral nature) of the Qur’ān. The chapter introduces Tajwīd as the representational and traditional phonetic system for the recitation of the Qur’ān. Tajwīd (which means improving the recitation of the Qur’ān) has not been adequately or completely presented in any Western language. There have been a number of experimental endeavours examining particular aspects of Tajwīd. This study fills a gap by examining the pharyngealised sounds of Tajwīd. Chapter Two discusses the phonetic contributions of classical Arab and Muslim investigators especially in the domains of Tajwīd and Qur’ānic sounds. It also outlines the important contributions of classical Arabic linguists such as Al-Khalīl, Sibawayh, and Ibn Jinni in the study of Arabic and Qur’ānic sounds. Both classical and contemporary contributions to Tajwīd are of special interest to the current research as they are the base of all subsequent research and experimental studies in the Qur’ānic sounds. This chapter also discusses the phonetic characteristics of the Arabic pharyngealised and uvularized sounds. Chapter Three explores Qur’ānic pharyngealisation; known as Tafxīm, with a particular emphasis on the seven Qur’nic pharyngealised consonant and vowel sounds, and discusses the most appropriate name for the Qur’ānic Tafxīm feature. The chapter focuses on the classification of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds as well as their articulatory parameters and their degrees of pharyngealisation. The description of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds is incomplete without a physiological account for each sound. This chapter discusses and describes the pharynx, the tongue, and the lips, as they are the most important articulators of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds. Chapter Four reports on an acoustic analysis of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds. In order to examine the phonetic parameters of these Qur’ānic sounds, three groups of male reciters were employed for the purpose of recitation. These three groups encompass all levels of Qur’ānic recitation in Islamic world today. Acoustic analysis of the sounds of the reciters in these groups showed clear acoustic differences between the pharyngealised sounds recited by each group, and by contrasting the acoustic results of the super-standard recitations with those of professional and non-professional reciters provided a characterisation of the acoustics of the super-standard recitation of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds. Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds are also compared with the Arabic pharyngealised sounds. The findings of this experiment are crucially important for those who want to perfect their recitation of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds as well for those who want to assess, classify, or improve Qur’ānic recitation. Chapter Five outlines the procedure and results of an articulatory experiment. This chapter examines the articulatory features of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised consonants and vowels. A videofluorographic experiment was undertaken to examine the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds in motion. A series of X-ray frames of every sound in examined this study show the sequence of articulation from the release of the consonant to the start of the stable target of the following Qur’ānic pharyngealised vowel. The Qur’ānic samples accompanying this videofluorographic experiment were extracted and acoustically analysed to compare the articulatory configurations of the sounds with their acoustic correlates. Chapter six discusses the findings of the acoustic and the articulatory experiments of this research. It also focuses on the relation between the findings of each experiment and how to relate them to each other. This chapter commences with a discussion of the nature of the Qur’ānic pharyngealised vowel sound and is then followed by a discussion of the various experimental results. It will also discuss the nature of the Qur’ānic vowel as well as the main acoustic and articulatory features that characterise the Qur’ānic pharyngealisation such as vowel duration and the distance between F3-F2. The idea of the auditory integration of the spectral peaks especially F1-F2 and F3-F4 will be examined for a better understanding on how the human brain deals with these Qur’ānic pharyngealised vowel sounds. Chapter seven concludes and summarises this research with an overview of the main points and results of the experiments of this research in the light of the studies mentioned in literature review (Chapter Two). This chapter also recommends some further studies that need to be undertaken on the Qur’ānic pharyngealised sounds.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature review -- Chapter 3. The Qur’ānic Pharyngealised Sounds -- Chapter 4. Acoustics Of The Qur’ānic Pharyngealised Vowel Sounds -- Chapter 5. Articulatory Videofluorography – A Pilot Study -- Chapter 6. General Discussion -- Chapter 7. Conclusion and further research.


"2012 Submitted to the requirement of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics" Bibliography : pages 237-247

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Robert Mannell


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Saeed Saad Saeed Alsurf 2013.




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