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Supplementary materials for "Primal consonants and the evolution of consonant inventories" by Joan Bybee and Shelece Easterday, published in LDC (2022).

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posted on 22.06.2022, 13:42 authored by Joan Bybee, Shelece Easterday

These are the supplementary materials for an article published in Language Dynamics and Change, entitled "Primal consonants and the evolution of consonant inventories" by Joan Bybee and Shelece Easterday, with DOI: 10.1163/22105832-bja10020. Lindblom and Maddieson (1988) observe that “basic” consonants occur in all consonant inventories, but that larger inventories additionally include “elaborated” consonants, which depart from neutral phonation modes, places, and manners of articulation. The hypothesis that larger inventories arise from the smaller ones via sound change is tested here using a database of phonetic processes cataloged from a sample of 81 genealogically diverse languages. The database contains processes that create a large majority of the proposed articulatory elaborations, strongly supporting this hypothesis. We further examine the question of whether the basic consonants are also created by sound change. Our somewhat surprising finding is that certain basic consonants (/p t k b d g m n ŋ s l/) are very rarely created anew, raising questions about how they come to be common in consonant inventories and how they survive processes of sound change and lexical replacement over long periods of time. These materials contain a list of the languages in AlloPhon and references consulted in this study, as well as the phonetic and allophonic processes used and the analyses presented. 

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