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The bilabial nasal /m/
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Features
A possible feature specification of  /m/ is +sonorant, +labial, -coronal, -velar, +nasal.

Phonotactic behaviour
/m/ can occur in onset clusters of one or two consonants, such as in 1a and 1b respectively. Furthermore, it can occur in simple codas, like in 2a, and in complex codas, such as in 2b and 2c.

Example 1

Onset
a. man man
b. smal narrow
Example 2

Coda
a. ham bite
b. lamp lamp
c. arm poor

Behaviour after schwa
Schwa + /m/ sequences behave differently from other schwa + sonorant sequences. In particular, they choose the allomorph –er of the agentive suffix, rather than –aar:

Example 3

a. adem-er *adem-aar breather
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[+] Articulatory information

Dutch /m/ is a bilabial nasal. Dutch /m/ does not display significant variation (Collins and Mees 2003).

Bilabial
Speech sounds produced at bilabial place of articulation (with a constriction at the lips). See human speech organs.

Nasal
Speech sounds produced with a simultaneous oral closure and a lowered velum, allowing air to escape through the nose. See the speech organs.


Figure 1: The human speech organs

[click image to enlarge]

[+] Acoustic properties of /m/

Bilabial
  • in obstruents, noise or noise bursts characterised by a relatively flat spectrum (diffuse energy), and formant transitions (all formants are lowered in the vicinity of a bilabial).
  • in nasals, indicated by the presence of low frequency (1000 Hz) anti-formants, or spectral valleys.

Nasal
  • consonant involving low-amplitude, vowel-like periodicity. Typically characterised on a spectrogram by the presence of anti-formants (spectral valleys).

Dutch /m/ is a voiced bilabial nasal.

[+] Examples

Table 1: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /m/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
mei 1991May 1991 word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
afstand van je moeten nemenmust take distance from you intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
en rum drinkende piratenand rum-drinking pirates word-final
[click image to enlarge]

Table 2: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Southern Standard Dutch /m/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
in mei 1847in May 1847 word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
een bad nemento take a bath intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
rum en cola met veel rumrum and coke with a lot of rum word-final
[click image to enlarge]
References:
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
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