LINGUIST List 14.2943

Wed Oct 29 2003

Sum: Marked Phonemes of Endangered Languages

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. Clare Mac Cumhaill, Rare sounds in endangered languages

Message 1: Rare sounds in endangered languages

Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 11:41:35 +0000
From: Clare Mac Cumhaill <>
Subject: Rare sounds in endangered languages

Last April I posted a request for information (Linguist 14.1404) on
rare phonemes occuring in endangered languages, and was hoping to
compile an inventory of these with a view to producing a sonic artwork
aimed at alerting the public to the crisis in hand. Many thanks to
those who responded to my plea, and sincere apologies for my delay in
posting this- a summary of the responses I received. I also include a
couple of rare contrasts that were brought to my attention on that

Ditidaht, a Southern Wakashan language of Vancover Island, has a sound
that has been described as a pharyngealised glottal stop (Ref: Adam

Wari and Oro Win, Chapakuran languages of Brazil, the latter on the
brink of extinction, both contain a sound described as a voiceless
apical-dental plosive followed by a voiceless labio-labial trill (Ref:
Dan Everett).

Puare of the Serra Hills family, Skou stock, Northern New Guinea,
contains a voiced lateral fricative coarticulated with laminal dental
friction, palatalised, and Iha, of Western New Guinea, Bomberai stock,
has a prenasalised voiced coarticulated labial-velar stop (Ref: Mark

Oodham, a Uto-Aztecan language, has a fortis/ lenis
distinction between stop consonants (Ref: Paul Kilpatrick), and Ega, a
Kwa/ Kru language, has implosives at five places of articulation (Ref:
Bruce Connell).

Over 60 languages of central Africa have bilabial and labiodental
flaps (Ref: Ken Olson), and while none of these are endangered as
such, the sound is interesting in as much as there is no commonly
accepted IPA symbol to describe it.

Thanks again to all who took the time to respond- My piece is yet in
the making.

Clare Mac Cumhaill 
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue