- Sanskrit's phonemic vowel length has been lost. Vowels are long when nasalized or in a final syllable.
- Gujarati contrasts oral and nasal, and murmured and non-murmured vowels, except for /e/ and /o/.
- In absolute word-final position the higher and lower vowels of the /e ɛ/ and /o ɔ/ sets vary.
- /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ developed in the 15th century. Old Gujarati split into Rajasthani and Middle Gujarati.
- English loanwords are a source of /æ/.
- The retroflex lateral flap /ɭ̆/ may be more concisely transcribed with the non-IPA symbol ⟨⟩, though this may not display properly in some browsers.
- A fourth nasal phoneme is postulated for the phones [ɲ, ŋ] and the nasalization of a preceding vowel [Ṽ]. Before velar and palatal stops, there is variation between these; e.g. [mɑ̃ɡʋũ]~[mɑŋɡʋũ] ('ask for'), [ɦĩtʃko]~[ɦĩɲtʃko] ('swing').
- Stops occurring at first members of clusters followed by consonants other than /ɾ, j, ʋ/ are unreleased; they are optionally unreleased in final position. The absence of release entails deaspiration of voiceless stops.
- Intervocalically and with murmuring of vowels, the voiced aspirated stops /ɡʱ, dʱ, bʱ/ have voiced spirant allophones [ɣ, ð, β]. Spirantization of non-palatal voiceless aspirates has been reported as well, including /pʰ/ being usually realized as [f] in the standard dialect.
- The voiced retroflex stops and the nasal /ɖʱ, ɖ, ɳ/ have flapped allophones [ɽʱ, ɽ, ɽ̃]. Intervocalically all three are flapped. /ɳ/ is unflapped before retroflex stops, and in final position varies freely between flapped and unflapped. The stops are unflapped initially, geminated, and postnasally; and flapped intervocalically, finally, and before or after other consonants.
- /ʋ/ has [v] and [w] as allophones.
- The distribution of sibilants varies over dialects and registers.
- Some dialects only have [s], others prefer [ʃ], while another system has them non-contrasting, with [ʃ] occurring contiguous to palatal segments. Retroflex [ʂ] still appears in clusters in which it precedes another retroflex: [spəʂʈ] ('clear').
- Some speakers maintain [z] as well for Persian and English borrowings. Persian's /z/'s have by and large been transposed to /dʒ/ and /dʒʱ/: /dʒindɡi/ ('life') and /tʃidʒʱ/ ('thing'). The same cannot be so easily said for English: /tʃiz/ ('cheese').
- Lastly, a colloquial register has [s], or both [s] and [ʃ], replaced by voiceless [h]. For educated speakers speaking this register, this replacement does not extend to Sanskrit borrowings.
Phonotactical constraints include:
- /ɭ/ and /ɳ/ do not occur word-initially.
- Clusters occur initially, medially, and finally. Geminates occur only medially.
- Biconsonantal initial clusters beginning with stops have /ɾ/, /j/, /ʋ/, and /l/ as second members. In addition to these, in loans from Sanskrit the clusters /ɡn/ and /kʃ/ may occur.
The occurrence of /ɾ/ as a second member in consonantal clusters is one of Gujarati's conservative features as a modern Indo-Aryan language. For example, languages used in Asokan inscriptions (3rd century BC) display contemporary regional variations, with words found in Gujarat's Girnar inscriptions containing clusters with /ɾ/ as the second member not having /ɾ/ in their occurrence in inscriptions elsewhere. This is maintained even to today, with Gujarati /tɾ/ corresponding to Hindi /t/ and /tt/.
- Initially, s clusters biconsonantally with /ɾ, j, ʋ, n, m/, and non-palatal voiceless stops.
- Triconsonantal initial clusters include /stɾ, spɾ, smɾ/ - most of which occur in borrowings.
- Geminates were previously treated as long consonants, but they are better analyzed as clusters of two identical segments. Two proofs for this:
- The u in geminated uccār "pronunciation" sounds more like the one in clustered udgār ('utterance') than the one in shortened ucāṭ ('anxiety').
- Geminates behave towards (that is, disallow) [ə]-deletion like clusters do.
Gemination can serve as intensification. In some adjectives and adverbs, a singular consonant before the agreement vowel can be doubled for intensification. #VCũ → #VCCũ.
The matter of stress is not quite clear:
- Stress is on the first syllable except when it doesn't have /a/ and the second syllable does.
- Stress is barely perceptible.
- Stress typically falls on the penultimate syllable of a word, however, if the penultimate vowel in a word with more than two syllables is schwa, stress falls on the preceding syllable.
Schwa-deletion, along with a-reduction and [ʋ]-insertion, is a phonological process at work in the combination of morphemes. It is a common feature among Indo-Aryan languages, referring to the deletion of a stem's final syllable's /ə/ before a suffix starting with a vowel.
This does not apply for monosyllabic stems and consonant clusters. So, better put, #VCəC + V# → #VCCV#. It also doesn't apply when the addition is an o plural marker (see Gujarati grammar#Nouns) or e as an ergative case marker (see Gujarati grammar#Postpositions).}} It sometimes doesn't apply for e as a locative marker.
|verb root||[keɭəʋ]||educate||[iʃ]||1st person singular, future||[keɭʋiʃ]||will educate||CVCəC + VC → CVCCVC||Yes||Polysyllabic stem with /ə/ in its final syllable, with a suffix starting with a vowel (verbal declension).|
|[səmədʒ]||understand||[jɑ]||masculine plural, perfective||[səmdʒjɑ]||understood||CVCəC + CV → CVCCCV||Polysyllabic stem with /ə/ in its final syllable, with a suffix starting with a semi-vowel (verbal declension).|
|[utəɾ]||descend||[to]||masculine singular, imperfective||[utəɾto]||descending||VCəC + CV → VCəCCV||No||Suffix starting with a consonant.|
|[təɾ]||swim, float||[ɛ]||2nd person singular, present||[təɾɛ]||swimming, floating||CəC + V → CəCV||Monosyllabic.|
|[ʋəɾɳəʋ]||describe||[i]||feminine, perfective||[ʋəɾɳəʋi]||described||CVCCəC + VC → CVCCəCVC||Consonant cluster.|
|[ɑɭoʈ]||wallow, roll||[iʃũ]||1st person plural, future||[ɑɭoʈiʃũ]||will wallow, roll||VCoC + VCV → VCoCVCV||Non-ə.|
|noun||[ɑɭəs]||laziness||[ũ]||adjectival marker||[ɑɭsũ]||lazy||VCəC + V → VCCV||Yes||Polysyllabic stem with /ə/ in its final syllable, with a suffix starting with a vowel (adjectival marking).|
|[ʋəkʰət]||time||[e]||locative marker||[ʋəkte]||at (the) time||CVCəC + V → CVCCV||Sometimes yes — e as a locative marker.|
|[diʋəs]||day||[diʋəse]||on (the) day||CVCəC + V → CVCəCV||No||Sometimes no — e as a locative marker.|
|[ɾəmət]||game||[o]||plural marker||[ɾəməto]||games||CVCəC + V → CVCəCV||Plural o number marker suffix.|
|adjective||[ɡəɾəm]||hot||[i]||noun marker||[ɡəɾmi]||heat||CVCəC + V → CVCCV||Yes||Polysyllabic stem with /ə/ in its final syllable, with a suffix starting with a vowel (noun marking).|
A stem's final syllable's /ɑ/ will reduce to /ə/ before a suffix starting with /ɑ/. #ɑC(C) + ɑ# → #eC(C)ɑ#. This can be seen in the derivation of nouns from adjective stems, and in the formation of passive and causative forms of verb stems.
|[ɑʋ]||[kəpɑʋ]||cause to cut||Causative|
|[kəpɑʋ]||[ɑ]||[kəpɑʋɑ]||cause to be cut||Causative Passive||No[a]|
|[ɖɑʋ]||[kəpɑʋɖɑʋ]||cause to cause to cut||Double Causative|
- It does not happen a second time.
- It can take place after an ə-deletion. #ɑCəC + ɑ# → #əCCɑ#.
Between a stem ending in a vowel and its suffix starting with a vowel, a [ʋ] is inserted. #V + V# → #VʋV#. This can be seen in the formation of passive and causative forms of verb stems.
|sing||[ɡɑ]||[ɑɽ]||[ɡəʋɑɽ]||cause to sing|
The second example shows an ɑ-reduction as well.
|1||Word-initial ɦV → V̤[b]||[ɦəʋe]||[ə̤ʋe]||now|
V̤non-high, more open
|3||ə/aɦVhigh → ə̤/ɑ̤ (glide)||[ɾəɦi]||[ɾə̤j]||stayed|
- Gujarati spelling reflects this mode. The script has no direct notation for murmur.
- Rule 1 creates allomorphs for nouns. For example, /ɦəd/ ('limit') by itself can be ə̤d, but can only be ɦəd in beɦəd ('limitless').
- More open.
The table below compares declensions of the verbs [kəɾʋũ] ('to do') and [kɛ̤ʋũ] ('to say'). The former follows the regular pattern of the stable root /kəɾ/ serving as a point for characteristic suffixations. The latter, on the other hand, is deviant and irregular in this respect.
The [kɛ̤ʋũ] situation can be explained through murmur. If to a formal or historical root of /kəɦe/ these rules are considered then predicted, explained, and made regular is the irregularity that is [kɛ̤ʋũ] (romanized as kahevũ).
Thus below are the declensions of [kɛ̤ʋũ] /ɦ/-possessing, murmur-eliciting root /kəɦe/, this time with the application of the murmur rules on the root shown, also to which a preceding rule must be taken into account:
- 0. A final root vowel gets deleted before a suffix starting with a non-consonant.
However, in the end not all instances of /ɦ/ become murmured and not all murmur comes from instances of /ɦ/.
One other predictable source for murmur is voiced aspirated stops. A clear vowel followed by a voiced aspirated stop can vary with a pair gaining murmur and losing aspiration: #VCʱ ←→ #V̤C.
- Mistry (2003), p. 115.
- Mistry (2003), p. 116.
- Cardona & Suthar (2003), p. 662.
- Mistry (2003), pp. 115–116.
- Mistry (1996), pp. 391–393.
- Masica (1991), p. 97.
- Mistry (1997), p. 659.
- Cardona & Suthar (2003), p. 665.
- Cardona (2003), p. 665.
- Mistry (2001), p. 275.
- Mistry (1997), p. 658.
- Cardona & Suthar (2003), p. 666.
- Mistry (2001), p. 274.
- Mistry (1997), p. 670.
- Mistry (1997), p. 660.
- Campbell (1991), p. ?.
- UCLA Language Materials Project: Gujarati. Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2007-04-29
- Mistry (1997), pp. 661–662.
- Mistry (1997), p. 662.
- Mistry (1997), p. 663.
- Cardona & Suthar (2003), p. 667.
- Mistry (1997), pp. 666–668.
- Campbell, G.L. (1991), "Gujarati", Compendium of the world's languages, volume 1. Abaza to Lusatian, New York: Routledge, pp. 541–545
- Cardona, George; Suthar, Babu (2003), "Gujarati", in Cardona, George; Jain, Dhanesh (eds.), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-77294-5
- Dave, T.N. (1931), "Notes on Gujarati Phonology", Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, 6 (3): 673–678, doi:10.1017/S0041977X00093174, ISSN 1356-1898, JSTOR 607202
- Firth, J.R. (1957), "Phonetic Observations on Gujarati", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 20 (1): 231–241, doi:10.1017/S0041977X00061802, JSTOR 610376
- Masica, Colin (1991), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29944-2
- Mistry, P.J. (1996), "Gujarati Writing", in Daniels; Bright (eds.), The World's Writing Systems, Oxford University Press
- Mistry, P.J. (1997), "Gujarati Phonology", in Kaye, A.S (ed.), Phonologies of Asia and Africa, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns
- Mistry, P.J. (2001), "Gujarati", in Garry, Jane; Rubino, Carl (eds.), An encyclopedia of the world's major languages, past and present, New England Publishing Associates
- Mistry, P.J. (2003), "Gujarati", in Frawley, William (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, 2 (2nd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Pandit, P.B. (1961), "Historical Phonology of Gujarati Vowels", Language, Linguistic Society of America, 37 (1): 54–66, doi:10.2307/411249, JSTOR 411249
- Turner, Ralph Lilley (1921), "Gujarati Phonology", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society: 505–544
- Turner, Ralph Lilley (1915), "Indo-Aryan Nasals in Gujarati", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society: 1033–1038