Phonotactic Restrictions on Ejectives

Phonotactic Restrictions
on Ejectives
A Typological Survey
Carmen Jany
[email protected]
This presentation
 Introduction
 Language sample
 Restrictions
Based on syllable structure
Based on position and co-occurrence
 Ejectives & Phoneme Inventory
 Summary & Conclusions
 This paper: examines phonotactic restrictions
of ejective stops and phoneme inventories
 Sample: 27 mostly unrelated languages, but
from 3 major geographical areas
 Goal: to find general tendencies in phonotactic restrictions and possible explanations
 Ejectives occur in 18% of the world’s
languages (Ladefoged & Maddieson 1996)
 Strongly regional geographic distribution
(Maddieson 2004)
 Ejectives are non-pulmonic egressive
consonants produced with closed glottis
while occlusion in the oral cavity
 Generally no sharp division between
ejectives and plosives + glottal stop
 Ejectives are mostly voiceless stops (only
voiceless ejective stops examined in this paper)
 Tendency to occur only at same places of
articulation as other stops in same language
 Occurrence hierarchy: velar > dental/alveolar
> bilabial > uvular (Maddieson 1984)
Language sample
 Ejectives found in 3 areas: the Americas,
Africa, the Caucasus
 This study: 27 languages, 19 from the
Americas and 4 each from other 2 areas
 Still great genetic diversity (see handout)
 Materials used: grammars & secondary
sources (see handout)
Language sample
Source: WALS
 Two main types:
Ejectives do only or do not occur in certain positions
(not in coda, leftmost in morpheme)
Ejectives can only or cannot co-occur with certain
segments (not with other ejectives, only with
identical ejectives)
=> Position within syllable/word & co-occurrence
with other segments within syllable/word
 Both types depend on phonetic & phonological context (segments that precede/follow)
 Both types can be attributed to articulatory &
auditory features
Syllable-based restrictions
 Often described in grammars which cover
positional restrictions
 Both: positional & co-occurrence
 Limitations to onset/coda position in
syllables/words & to onset/coda clusters
 However: complex onsets/codas not in all
languages & sometimes vaguely described
Syllable-based restrictions
 Expected restrictions for phonetic reasons:
stops not always released in coda position =>
ejectives limited to onset position (absence of
audible release would eliminate contrast)
 Blevins (2004): in general, fewer contrasts in
coda position than in onset position
Syllable-based restrictions
 Information on positional restrictions only
for 21/27 languages
 8/21 languages do not allow ejectives in coda
position (no mention of word-edges)
 Assumption: Languages with no restrictions
always release coda stops (avoiding
neutralization of contrast)
Syllable-based restrictions
 Restrictions on consonant clusters for
articulatory and auditory reasons
 Clusters show similar restrictions in onset
and coda position
 Cluster information missing for 11 languages
 9 lack complex onsets & 7 complex codas
 A few restrictions (see handout)
Syllable-based restrictions
 Explanations for restrictions to following
Blevins (2004): Ejectives commonly contrast
with other stops before sonorants, but not before
obstruents and word-finally
Steriade (1999): Ejectives depend on right-hand
context because they are postglottalized
Syllable-based restrictions
 Explanation for restrictions to preceding
Articulatory difficulty and perceptual complexity
(see Bella Coola ban on two-ejective clusters)
 Ejectives only in roots: 3/27 languages (may
be related to affixing pattern and positional
Position/Co-occurrence restrictions
 No restrictions reported for 6 languages
 Restrictions for 5 languages syllable-based
 Positional restrictions:
Ejectives occur at the left edge of a domain (steminitial, leftmost in morpheme)
 Explanations: Initial position perceptually
more salient; stops tend to be released initially
Position/Co-occurrence restrictions
 Co-occurrence restrictions based on similarity
 Some languages allow only very similar
segments (homorganic, same laryngeal
features), others only dissimilar segments
 Some languages allow only identical
segments to co-occur
 Some languages ban co-occurrence within
morpheme or root
Position/Co-occurrence restrictions
 Explanation (MacEachern 1997): Restrictions based
on auditory similarity and identity
4 Patterns, each with subset of restrictions of next pattern
forming implicational hierarchy
E.g. pattern 4 with most restrictions: co-occurrence of
extremely similar no, but identical yes
Co-occuring elements on scale of similarity: identical –
very dissimilar
 Syllable-based co-occurrence restrictions also based
on similarity (ejective not next to glottal stop)
Ejectives & Phoneme Inventory
 Maddieson’s (1984) claims tested
a) Ejectives in the same places of articulation as
other stops in a given language
b) Certain places of articulation are preferred over
others: velar > dental/alveolar > bilabial > uvular
 a) and b) mostly confirmed
 Two contradictions: Tzutujil, Hupa
Summary & Conclusions
 Restrictions either positional of co-occurrence
 Positional: ejectives at left edge (syllable or
other domain)
Articulatory explanation: lack of stop release in
coda position
Auditory explanation: marked segments in
perceptually more salient position
Summary & Conclusions
 Articulatory and auditory reasons working together:
Lack of an audible release in coda eliminates phonetic cue
for contrast perception resulting in laryngeal neutralization
 Co-occurrence limitations based on auditory
Languages differ where they set the point at which
similarity becomes unacceptable (dissimilar-identical)
Languages also vary with respect to the domain of the
restriction (root, morpheme, syllable, word)
Summary & Conclusions
 All phonotactic restrictions of ejectives can be
explained in terms of articulatory variation and ease
and on perceptual complexity and similarity
 Given that languages vary with respect to articulatory
features and with regard to perceptual similarity,
different restrictions found cross-linguistically
 Cross-linguistic phonetic analysis is needed to have
experimental confirmation of these tendencies
Thank you!
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