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Similar Place Avoidance: A statistical universal
In recent years there has been an interest in the phenomenon of “Similar Place Avoidance” (SPA), particularly as concerns Arabic CCC radicals. Although little evidence has been considered outside Arabic, Hebrew, and perhaps Semitic in general, where roots with successive consonants sharing the same place of articulation are underrepresented, similarity avoidance has sometimes been hypothesized as a universal tendency. Progressively extending our scope from the Atlantic subgroup of Niger-Congo in its relation with other Niger-Congo languages, which had been our original, diachronic concern, to almost all of Africa and beyond, we undertook an extensive crosslinguistic investigation of SPA and found impressive support for this notion.
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