Refer: WALS feature 3A

A simple Google search yielded - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5529419/

which could be one of the reasons. But can anyone come up with some other reasons maybe concerning historical linguistics etc.

1 Answer 1


WALS doesn't make this explicit, but the C/V ratio is kind of a language family property. Berber languages have a high CV ratio, as do Khoisan, Salishan, Wakashan and Pama-Nyungan. PAN is reconstructed with 8 vowels and diphthongs and under 2 dozen consonants, which gives you a low CV ratio. Indo-European languages tend to have a higher CV ratio because PIE had more consonants. Of course any language can evolve and pick up or drop consonants and vowels in large numbers, but radical changes are historically less likely.

  • but why do they have a low CV ratio (like exceptionally low when compared to others) Apr 7, 2018 at 3:24
  • 1
    Is it exceptional? Somebody has to be in last place; is there e.g. a family-level statistic that you're thinking of? A low rate of C/V is either because there are few consonants or many vowels: I guess it's more about the consonants. It's clearer that the cause of high C/V ratios is many consonants: Maddieson notes that the distribution is skewed in favor of the category "low".
    – user6726
    Apr 7, 2018 at 4:28
  • Ok somebody has to be in the last place did it! Apr 7, 2018 at 5:06

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