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The Oxford Companion to the English Language
Tom McArthurTom McArthur, Jacqueline Lam-McArthurJacqueline Lam-McArthur, Lise FontaineLise Fontaine


A general term for sounds made in or near the throat, such as the velar fricative in German Achtung and ScoE loch, the uvular r in Parisian French derrière, and the pharyngeal arabic sounds known as ’ayn and ghayn. The term is imprecise and little used by phoneticians. It is often used loosely when describing English spoken with a ‘throaty’ foreign accent: ‘“I had some criticisms of my own education,” he said in his slow guttural, uncompromised by 50 years of living and working in the USA’ (referring to Bruno Bettelheim, Observer, 6 Sept. 1987).

See burr; pharynx; uvula; velum.