I've found that Arabic doesn't have the sound P - and they use B instead of it (when they pronounce non-Arabic words that contain the sound P, obviously).

Is there any other language not having the sound/phoneme P?


1 Answer 1


If you mean "lack voiceless bilabial stops", there are a number. In Afro-Asiatic I know of Somali, Tigre, Soqotri, Berber languages in general (there may be specific exceptions), Beja. Proto-Athabaskan has no bilabials so this carries over to many daughter languages (Tanaina, Tutchone, Tanacross, Tagish, Sarcee), and they are also lacking in Tlingit, Eyak and Ket (related) and Tillamook (not related except maybe areally, with Athabascan influence). Most Irooquoian languages lack it (Cherokee does) -- e.g. Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, Cayuga, Tuscarora; add in Yoruba, Efik and a number of Grassfield languages.

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    Is it really the case that Ket is related to Athabaskan? Sep 1, 2017 at 11:19
  • @Wilson It's plausible, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dené–Yeniseian_languages. Sep 1, 2017 at 12:28
  • Just as Old Arabic /p/ changed into Modern Arabic /f/, Old Japanese /p/ changed into Early Middle Japanese /ɸ/. PIE /p/ also changed into /ɸ/ in Old Celtic, and disappeared in later Celtic languages.
    – Locoluis
    Sep 1, 2017 at 13:00
  • @Locoluis. "Old Arabic" > "proto-Semitic". There is no evidence that any form of Arabic ever had /p/.
    – fdb
    Sep 1, 2017 at 18:34
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    @Locoluis: /p/ reappeared subsequently in P-Celtic (Welsh, Cornish, Breton) as a development of /kw/.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 1, 2017 at 23:50

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