Chapter published in:Typological Hierarchies in Synchrony and Diachrony
Edited by Sonia Cristofaro and Fernando Zúñiga
[Typological Studies in Language 121] 2018
► pp. 29–58
Evolutionary Phonology and the life cycle of voiceless sonorants
In this chapter I examine the phonetic origins of voiceless sonorants cross-linguistically within the general framework of Evolutionary Phonology (Blevins 2004; 2006; 2008b; 2015). In terms of a general hierarchy of contrast, we observe that: voiceless obstruents are common; voiceless sonorant consonants are uncommon; voiceless vowels are extremely rare. One phonetic source of voiceless sonorants is coarticulation in RH and HR and clusters, where R is a sonorant and H is a segment produced with a spread glottal gesture. Voiceless sonorants may also arise when laryngeal spreading gestures are associated with prosodic domains. In this second case, voiceless sonorants can arise as allophones of their voiced counterparts. While a fair number of languages show voiceless sonorant glides, liquids and nasals phonologized as a consequence of RH/HR coarticulation, voiceless vowels resist phonologization despite their high frequency as phonetic variants of modal vowels. In some cases, voiceless vowels are lost before phonologization can occur. In other cases, resistance to phonologization may be due to effects of analogy, /h/, word phonotactics, or lexical competition.
Keywords: voiceless vowels, voiceless sonorants, sound change, phonologization, phonetic explanation
Published online: 26 July 2018
Armagost, James L. & Miller, Wick R.
Aumann, Greg & Sidwell, Paul
2004 Subgrouping of Mienic languages: Some observations. In Papers from the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society: SEALS XI, Somsonge Burusphat (ed.). Tempe AZ: Arizona State University, South East Asian Studies Program, Monographs Series Press. 13–27
Beckman, Mary & Shoji, Atsuko
Bhaskararao, Peri & Ladefoged, Peter
Blankenship, Barbara, Ladefoged, Peter, Bhaskararao, Peri & Chase, Nichumeno
2009 Structure-preserving sound change: A look at unstressed vowel syncope in Austronesian. In Austronesian Historical Linguistics and Culture History: A Festschrift for Bob Blust [Pacific Linguistics, 601]. Alexander Adelaar & Andrew Pawley (eds), 33–49. Canberra: The Australian National University.
Blevins, Juliette & Wedel, Andrew
Blust, Robert & Trussel, Stephen
2014 The Austronesian Comparative Dictionary, web edn. www.trussel2.com/ACD (18 March 2014).
1990 Glottalized and aspirated sonorants in Kashaya. In Papers from the 1990 Hokan-Penutian Workshop, Margaret Langdon (ed.), 75–91. Carbondale IL: Southern Illinois University.
Catford, John Cunnison
Cedergren, Henrietta J. & Simoneau, Louise
Chitoran, Ioana & Iskarous, Khalil
Clayton, Ian D.
Crapo, Richley H.
Das Gupta, Kamalesh
1969 Dafla Language Guide. Shillong: Research Department, North-East Frontier Agency. Accessed via STEDT database http://stedt.berkeley.edu/search/ (1 September 2012).
Dauer, Rebecca M.
Delforge, Ann Marie
Dupoux, Emmanuel, Kakehi, Kakehi, Hirose, Yuki, Pallier, Christophe & Mehler, Jacques
Dupoux, Emmanuel, Parlato, Erika, Frota, Sonia, Hirose, Yuki & Peperkamp, Sharon
Faust, Norma & Pike, Evelyn G.
Foster, Mary LeCron
Frantz, Chester & Frantz, Marjorie
Gick, Bryan, Bliss, Heather, Michelson, Karin & Radanov, Bosko
Gordon, Matthew & Ladefoged, Peter
Gordon, Matthew & Munro, Pamela
Greenhill, Simon J., Blust, Robert & Gray, Russel D.
Hale, Kenneth & Nash, David
Han, Mieko Shimizu
Holmer, Nils M.
Huang, Bufan, Xu Shouchun, Chen Jiaying
Huffman, Marie K.
Jacques, Guillaume & Michaud, Alexis
Jessen, Michael & Pétursson, Magnús
. & Beckman, Mary 1993 A gestural-overlap analysis of vowel devoicing in Japanese and Korean. Paper presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Los Angeles, CA.
Jun, Sun-Ah & Beckman, Mary
Jun, Sun-Ah, Beckman, Mary, Niimi, Seiji & Tiede, Mark
Jun, Sun-Ah, Beckman, Mary & Lee, Hyuck-Joon
Karlsson, Anastasia Mukhanova & Svantesson, Jan-Olof
Keating, Patricia, Esposito, Christina M., Garellek, Marc, S. Khan, Sameer ud Dowla & Kuang, Jianjing
2011 Phonation contrasts across languages. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 108: 188–202.
Kim, Yuni & Valdovinos, Margarita
Maddieson, Ian & Anderson, Victoria
Maddieson, Ian & Emmory, Karen
Maldonado, Violeta Vázquez Rojas
McFarland, Teresa Ann
Mendes, Ronald Beline & Walker, James A.
2012 Going, going, gone? Devoicing of unstressed final vowels in Sao Paulo Portuguese. Paper presented at LSRL 43, CUNY.
Myers, Scott & Hansen, Benjamin
Myers, Scott & Padgett, Jaye
O’Grady, Geoffrey N.
Saxton, Dean, Saxton, Lucille & Enos, Susie
Schroeder, Martin & Schroeder, Helga
2003 Vowel devoicing of Ainu: How it differs and not differs from vowel devoicing of Japanese. In A New Century of Phonology and Phonological Theory: A Festschrift for Professor Shosuke Haraguchi on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday, Takeru Honma, Masao Okazaki, Toshiyuki Tabata & Shin-ichi Tanaka (eds), 237–249. Tokyo: Kaitakusha.
Shorto, Harry L.
Shosted, Ryan K.
2008 The acoustics of voiceless nasal vowels. Paper presented at Laboratory Phonology 11, Wellington, New Zealand.
STEDT lexical database http://stedt.berkeley.edu
Stevens, Kenneth N.
Tsuchida, Ayako, Cohn, Abigail & Kumada, Masanobu
Tucker, Benjamin V. & Warner, Natasha
Turnbull, Rory, Hansen, Magnus Pharao & Thomsen, Ditte Boeg
2011 How a moribund dialect can contribute to the bigger picture: Insights from Acazulco Otomi. Paper presented at CUNY Phonology Forum, January 2011.
Cited by other publications
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 01 january 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.