Northern Sangtam phonetics, phonology and word list
This paper presents a comprehensive phonetic and phonological description of Northern Sangtam, an essentially undescribed Tibeto-Burman language of central Nagaland belonging to the Aoic subgroup. It is a noteworthy language from a number of phonological perspectives, not least because its phoneme inventory contains two of the world’s rarest phonemes: a pre-stopped bilabial trill, and a doubly-articulated labial-coronal nasal. These unique segments are described in detail, and an attempt is made to determine how they might have developed their phonemic status. The tone system is also of interest, as it demonstrates evidence of debuccalization resulting in the development of a new high tone. Following a systematic description of the syllable and word structure, the tone system, and the segmental phonology, some observed age-related differences in the phoneme inventory are discussed. The paper is linked to an online repository containing the audio-visual data and transcribed word lists of approximately 900 items, based on the recorded utterances of eight speakers.