In the Northern Horpa (NH) language of Sichuan, vowels are divided between plain and pharyngealized sets, with the latter pronounced with auxiliary articulatory gestures involving more constriction in the vocal tract. The current study examines how the NH vocalic contrast is manifested in line with the process of pharyngealization both acoustically and articulatorily, based on freshly gathered data from two varieties of the language (i.e., Rtsangkhog and Yunasche). Along with formant analyses, ultrasound imaging was employed to capture the tongue postures and positions during vowel production. The results show that in contrast with plain vowels, pharyngealized vowels generally feature lower F2 values and higher F1 and F3 values. Mixed results for F2 and F3 suggest that the quality contrasts are vowel-dependent. Ultrasound images, on the other hand, reveal that the vocalic distinction is affected by different types of tongue movements, including retraction, backing, and double bunching, depending on the inherent tongue positions for each vowel. The two NH varieties investigated are found to display differential formant changes and different types of tongue displacements. The formant profiles along with ultrasound images support the view that the production of the NH phonologically marked vowels is characteristic of pharyngealization.

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