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zompist bboard • View topic - A guide to small consonant inventories

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:06 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:50 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:43 pm 
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Good thread!

A few more can be added:

Cayuga has 11: /t ʦ k kʷ ʔ s h n r j w/
"Common Cree" has 12: /p t ʧ k s ʃ h m n "r" j w/ -- where in various dialects "r" is realized as any of [r], [l], [j], [n], and [ð], and where some dialects have merged /s/ and /ʃ/ and so may have as few as 10 -- e.g. Naskapi has 10: /p t ʧ k s h m n j w/.
Cheyenne has 10: /p t k ʔ s ʃ h m n v/.
Menominee has 11: /p t ʧ k ʔ s h m n j w/.



For Mohawk I think you should treat the affricate(s) as part of the same voicing class as the other obstruents, and also note that [l] and [r] are dialectal variants of the same single phoneme, so really it should be 10 consonants except that some people treat /kʷ/ as phonemic so I'd say go with these 11: /t ʦ k kʷ ʔ s h n r j w/.

of Tuscarora gives it 12 consonants, counting /kʷ/ as a separate phoneme. Cherokee would also have 12 consonants under a similar analysis, with the addition of /kʷ/. The same analysis of Onondaga and Seneca gives both the following 10 consonants: /t ʦ k kʷ ʔ s h n j w/.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:21 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:40 pm 
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You can't underspecify much more massively than reducing a NEC inventory to Polynesian size. Consider that one recanted.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:41 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:14 am 
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:51 pm 
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Oh, also, for , change /x/ to /h/ and add /ð/ as a phoneme (apparently it's very marginal, normally appearing as an allophone of /j/, but there are a handful of examples of contrast).

Also. You can add Mi'kmaq, which has 13 phonemes: /p t ʧ k kʷ s x xʷ m n l j w/; Miami-Illinois which has 11: /p t ʧ k s ʃ h m n j w/; Shawnee which has 11: /p t ʧ k ʔ θ ʃ m n j w/; Iñapari which has 10: /p t ʔ s h m n r j w/; Ikpeng which has 12: /p t ʧ k g m n ŋ l r j w/; Arikapú which has 10: /p t ʧ k h m n r j w/; and Djeoromitxí which has 12: /p t ʧ ʤ k h m n r w/ plus /ps bz/.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:33 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:45 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:04 pm 
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Maybe a situation like Inuktitut, which only has /g ɢ/ for voiced stops? *b and *d apparently lenited since it has /v/ and /l/. Speaking of Inuktitut, a couple dialects of it are sooo close to fitting the phoneme number requirement. Inuinnaqtun apparently has /p t k q h v l j g ɢ m n ŋ/, which is 13.


Last edited by ---- on Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:05 pm 
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Apparently it's mostly from older intervocalic *k, but in a few words there's still intervocalic [k] from older clusters (e.g. *akuri > *akri > aki, "agouti") so the distinction is now phonemic! Meanwhile older intervocalic *p and *t changed to -w- and -r- so it's part of a broader process. (My info comes from "The Southern Cariban Languages and the Cariban Family" (IJAL 71), by Sergio Meira and Bruna Franchetto.)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:09 pm 
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Oh, so it's like Rotokas, where /b/ fricates and /d/ flaps but AFAIK /g/ doesn't do anything.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:23 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:22 am 
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Weell, I'm just going off of what Wikipedia says (see "apparently"), I really don't know what I'm talking about for sure. I've only studied the Baffin island dialect in detail, specifically what is spoken around Iqaluit.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:22 pm 
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Woo this is fun, looking for this stuff.

ANYWAY some more.

Karitiâna has 11: /p t k s h m n ɲ ŋ r w/. (Although based on the description I would argue for analyzing "/ɲ/" as /j/ since that's one of its realizations and it doesn't pattern with the other nasals.)

Tiriyó has 10: /p t k s h m n r j w/.

Warao has 11: /p t k kʷ s h m n r j w/.

Arabela has 11: /p t k s ʃ h m n r j w/.

Barí has 10: /b t d k s h m r ɾ j/.

Barasana-Eduria has 11: /p b t d c ɟ k g h r w/. (It's not clear what exactly the source's "c" and "j" represent, just that they're some sort of post-alveolar/palatal stops/affricates.)

Southern Barasano has 10: /b t d k g s h r j w/.

Tuyuca has 11: /p b t d k g s h r j w/.


I'm sure there's more but I'm done looking for today.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:34 pm 
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Oh, found another. Central Miyako has /m n p t k ɾ f s ʋ/, which is 9 consonants. Also notable for allowing fricatives, nasals, and /ʋ/ to be syllable nuclei, as well as allowing initial geminates, and overlong consonants can also appear.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:18 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:53 am 
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Proto-Macro-Chibchan is reconstructed with a nasal-less inventory of /b t d k ʔ ts s h l ɾ w/, eleven consonants.

Proto-Oto-Manguean is reconstructed with just eight: /t k kʷ ʔ s n w j/, but there's a note that another linguist thinks it had /θ ts x xʷ l r m/ too.

Proto-Mixo-Zoquean is reconstructed with eleven consonants, /p t ts k ʔ s h m n w j/.

Siwai also has eleven, with /p t k m n ŋ s h r w j/.

Kwomtari has /p b t k g m n ɸ~β s r ɭ~ɖ/.

Insofar as there seems to be a rule here, it seems to be: of the four most common groupings of consonants (plosives, nasals, fricatives and liquids), either have all four, or add a second plosive series and blur the boundaries between that and either the nasals or the liquids. Also, plosives usually seem to be the most numerous grouping, the fricatives are often impoverished, and the glides seem to be /w j/ before anything else.

Edit: and Jamamadi is reported to have /b t ɟ~j k m n ɸ s h̃ r w/, with /h/ always being nasalized.

Irantxe is reported to have /p t k ʔ m n s h w l~r j/.

Coming in at twelve consonants is Huaorani, which has /p t k b d~ɾ ɟ~j g m n ɲ ŋ w/. It is also reported to have a vowel system of /i e æ a ɵ~o~ɤ/.

Also with twelve is Karajá, with /b d tʃ dʒ k ɗ θ ʃ h l w ɾ/. That's just the inventory for Karajá women- men drop /k/.

Puinave has /p t k m n s h/, with [w j] occuring as allophones of /i u/.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:20 am 
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Is it possible to do an analysis of these along the lines of 'If a language has X, it also/normally/sometimes has Y'?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:45 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:49 pm 
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For some reason I had totally overlooked Yimas which has the consonants /p t c~s k m n ɲ ŋ r ʎ w j/ (12 in total). The palatal stop /c/ has [s] as a major allophone.

The closely related Tabriak language lacks the palatal consonants except for /j/ and has a simple sibilant /s/. On the other hand it's apparently analysed as having a set of prenasalised stops /mb nd ŋg/ pushing it above the threshold of this survey. In Yimas any nasal+stop combination is always simply a cluster.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:34 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 1:47 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:54 pm 
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