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zompist bboard • View topic - Geology and Sound Change

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 Post subject: Geology and Sound Change
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:13 am 
Niš
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Is there a correlation between an area’s geography and the phonology/pronunciation of the languages spoken in that area?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:15 am 
Sanno
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No.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:43 am 
Avisaru
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There have been these couple of papers claiming geographic causes for the distribution of ejectives and tonal languages:




I haven't read these papers since they came out, but I remember concluding that their data handling and statistical analysis left far too many open questions to take the results completely seriously. If such geographic effects exist, it'll take much more rigorous work to demonstrate them.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:13 am 
Smeric
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It has also been claimed that people in cold climates are more likely to use close vowels /i/ and /u/ prominently whereas in warmer climates you hear more /a/. This is to keep the amount of cold or rushing into the mouth aslt a minimum. I read somewhere that Russians are more likely than other Europeans to have thicker bone plates around the palate, presumably for the same reasn, but I can't find it now.

There are other correlations which may be total coincidence.... voiced stops seem to be most common in the tropics (Australia,
Bantu, some Amazonian langs),whereas outside the tropics if a language has only one stop series it is always voiceless, and if it has a contrast the voiceless stops are more common.

I think a lot of things are just random though. I used to think uvulars were associated with deserts(siberia&Nunavut are deserts,as is much of the andes), but they're apparently found in some tropical rainforest languages and in proto-Austronesian.


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Strictly speaking a correlation does exist.... as demonstrated above.but causation is likely impossible to prove.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:51 am 
Sanno
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Nichols has also done some work purporting to show that mountainous regions (like the Caucasus) tend to become "relic areas" where more complex languages pile up (and become even more complex) while simpler ones spread out over the lowlands (and become more simple in the process). She claims to have a scientific definition of "linguistic complexity" but I lack the expertise to really evaluate it.

If this tendency does exist, it would still probably take a couple thousand years of continuous inhabitation to really manifest itself. 500 years of European colonisation of the Americas hasn't led to mountain varieties that are significantly more complex than what's spoken elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:05 am 
Sumerul
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:19 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:29 pm 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:24 pm 
Sanno
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:07 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:40 pm 
Smeric
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It's good as a conlanging inspiration but more research needs to done before these ideas can be accepted.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:14 pm 
Sanci
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It's tempting though, isn't it? What if Inuktitut is agglutinative because it's too cold to leave your mouth open for too long? :-D

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:25 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:40 am 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:57 am 
Smeric
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