11 votes
Accepted

Have ejective consonants ever arisen on their own?

It is almost true, in the sense that there are nearly no cases of ejectives unambiguously developing and clearly without external influence. There are two good candidates, though: Yapese and Waimoa. ...
  • 70k
8 votes

Does any living language contrast /kʷ/ and /kw/?

In theory, yes. Tashlhiyt Berber is said to have a contrast, but that does not mean that there are any minimal pairs. That article points to literature, saying that it is generally agreed that they ...
  • 70k
5 votes
Accepted

If these letter pairs are used to distinguish two words in any language

Basically you're asking if each of these distinctions is phonemic in any language. Here's a partial answer: k q Arabic and Biblical Hebrew ɲ ŋ Swahili, Mapos Buang n ɳ Sanskrit ŋ ...
  • 53.9k
5 votes

If these letter pairs are used to distinguish two words in any language

You can self-answer your questions by using the simple interface to the UPSID database. You can play with the query interface (it is not really tuned to find pairs of given sounds, but you can search ...
5 votes

If these letter pairs are used to distinguish two words in any language

A long question! Here is a partial answer. Most languages that have /q/ also have /k/ as a distinct phoneme. As you’ve suggested, the distinction may be realized in part on surrounding sounds: uvular ...
  • 16.7k
4 votes
Accepted

How is an archiphoneme represented on the phonetic level?

An archiphoneme is employed when a surface phone (which has a definite phonetic value) could derive from a number of underlying sounds /x,y,z/ and there is no contrast between these segments in that ...
  • 70k
4 votes

Why are languages with average vowel inventory size scattered?

I'm going to take a guess that what your professor meant by "widely scattered" is referring to the location of the articulation of the vowel in the mouth, and not geographically. The reason for this ...
  • 2,715
4 votes

Fewest number of vowels in a Germanic language?

Tok Pisin and East African (Kenyan, Tanzanian) English both have the 5-vowel systems /i u e o a/, and no vowel length contrast, both features of Swahili.
  • 70k
4 votes

Does any living language contrast /kʷ/ and /kw/?

Just because a language contrasts two sounds, doesn't mean there should be minimal pairs (cf. English /h/ and /ŋ/). The IPA uses a plain w to symbolise the [w] sound (war) and a superscript ʷ for ...
  • 1,379
4 votes

Does any living language contrast /kʷ/ and /kw/?

Thai can be what you are looking for. It has onset clusters /kw/, /kʰw/. Quite often, they are realized as labialized velar consonants /kʷ/, /kʰʷ/. However¹, final stops like /-k/ are accompanied by a ...
3 votes

How is an archiphoneme represented on the phonetic level?

An archiphoneme is really not a phonetic entity. Trubetzkoy distinguished his archiphoneme from its surface manifestation, which he called the archiphoneme representative (Vertreter). However, there ...
  • 12.2k
3 votes

Why are languages with average vowel inventory size scattered?

The best resource on this question is the WALS map, which calls into question the claim. Before calling it into question, we'd need to determine what the actual claim is, in particular what makes a ...
  • 70k
2 votes
Accepted

Are there any languages that use rapidly repeated or stammered/stuttered sounds for differentiation?

Gemination of consonants (and long vowels) as a sound phonologically distinct from single consonants (or short vowels) is a feature common to many languages. Here is a selection of minimal pairs of ...
  • 3,024
2 votes

Are there languages that disallow initial vowels and lack glottal stop?

There's an Australian language Lardil that has both of the features the OP is asking for: there's no phonemic glottal stop, in fact, there are no glottal consonants each syllable starts with a ...
  • 1,379
2 votes

Are there languages that disallow initial vowels and lack glottal stop?

As reported by Lin (1977) (Phonology 14:403-436), there is no glottal stop and no initial vowels in Piro. If you can get Thargari Phonology and Morphology (T. Klokeid 1969, Pac. Ling. Series B #12), ...
  • 70k
2 votes

Are there languages that ban t+S (esh) sequences but have a č phoneme?

There are many languages that wouldn't permit a sequence like /t/ + /ʃ/ because it involves either coda /t/ (in the case of heterosyllabic /t.ʃ/ or a tautosyllabic stop-fricative complex coda /tʃ./) ...
  • 16.7k
2 votes

Are there languages that ban t+S (esh) sequences but have a č phoneme?

English is a prime example, but that is a matter of analysis. One problem with the question as asked is that it mixes alphabets, contrasting tS (IPA tʃ) and č. The letter č is not IPA, so to normalize ...
  • 70k
2 votes

Languages that have phonemic aspirated post-alveolar affricates

You can search for the segment [tʃʰ] at Phoible and get quite an impressive list of languages having it. Clicking on Mundari as a randomly chosen example confirms that it contrasts with non-aspirated [...
2 votes
Accepted

What are good sources for finding phoneme inventories for languages?

PHOIBLE is probably the best free source. Searching by language allows you to get a list of all distinct segments in the language's phonological inventory. It does not provide a detailed description ...
  • 5,057
2 votes

Is there any site where I can find the list of natural languages that dont have a list of phonemes?

There is not such a site. Also, a site might have a list but a language doesn't have a list. Maybe you mean that the language has phonemes, which you could put in a list. All spoken languages have ...
  • 70k
1 vote

Languages that have phonemic aspirated post-alveolar affricates

Sanskrit, and most other Indian languages, have (at least in the script) a four-way distinction of c - ch - j - jh. I would have to rummage a bit in the dictionary to establish minimal pairs.
  • 22.8k
1 vote

Is there a database/website etc. where I can check which languages have two or more given segments and which treat them as separate phonemes

There is no database that provides that information for more than a handful of languages. You would need (1) an accurate list of phonetic segments systematically used in a language, for many languages ...
  • 70k
1 vote

What fraction of compound phonemes actually exist in natural language?

First, a word about what a phoneme is: a phoneme is "a sound" which a language uses as one of its primitive elements for constructing utterances. For instance /p/ in "paper, spit". It turns out that ...
  • 70k
1 vote

Why are languages with average vowel inventory size scattered?

It is mainly a consequence of basic statistics: Languages with an average¹ vowel inventory are also the most frequently occurring languages, the distribution thins out very quickly towards the more ...

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible