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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2018

Frequent segmental alternations in P-base 3

From the book Phonological Typology

  • Anthony Brohan and Jeff Mielke


P-base (Mielke 2008) is a large typological database of several thousand phonological rules and distributions in 537 languages. In this chapter we demonstrate how it can be applied to a wide range of questions in phonological typology, making use of several new features of version 3. This includes possible follow-up studies to many of the other chapters in the volume. As a starting point, we show that the crosslinguistic frequency of segments in segment inventories are largely similar to UPSID (Maddieson 1984; Maddieson & Precoda 1990), a similarly-sized genetically balanced database of segment inventories. Second, we show that a considerable number of the phonological patterns in P-base fall into a small number of categories defined in terms of the classes of segments involved, the features changing, and the position of the trigger relative to the target. For instance, regressive preconsonantal nasal place assimilation accounts for 4.54% of the sound patterns, and because place changes are quite rare, this constitutes more than half of all cases of place assimilation. Other types of sound patterns are shown to be distributed in ways that are consistent with phonetic accounts of phonological typology, e.g., consonant epenthesis is dominated by glottals and glides, particularly in contexts that have been argued to be the locus of epenthesis as a sound change.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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