LINGUIST List 4.233

Tue 30 Mar 1993

Sum: Unreleased consonants

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  1. , Re: Unreleased consonants

Message 1: Re: Unreleased consonants

Date: 31 Mar 93 09:41:47 GMT-120Re: Unreleased consonants
From: <>
Subject: Re: Unreleased consonants

>From: "Simon Corston" <ANTNOV1/SHC>
On the 19/Mar/93 I posted the following message on Linguist

> I am on the hunt for a language with unreleased consonsantal
> phonemes. I am doing research for a paper on sonority in Dependency
> Phonology, and am interested in the minimally sonorous end of the
> scale.
> Any refs or notes most welcome.

My thanks to all those who replied. I am still following up on the
refs and info supplied. My apologies for late responses in some
cases. I am presently finishing off an MA thesis, which had priority
for a time. The research on unreleased Cs is for a separate paper.

One definition of `sonority' that I am exploring is that of
`perceived loudness', hence the interest in unreleased Cs after
sitting in on an undergrad field methods class on Sasak (Lombok) with
unreleased /p t k/ which have struck me as perceptually (to me) quiet.

My initial query was intended to investigate if there was a lg with a
PHONEMIC contrast between released and unreleased Cs in any known lg.
 _A priori_, it would seem that unreleased Cs are not possible
syllable-initial, since they must have release onto the rest of the
syllable. However, it seemed possible that there might be a lg with,
say, a contrast between released phonemes /p t k/ occurring initial
and final (phrase/word/syllable final or whatever) and /p t k /
(where = unreleased) occurring final only (i.e. with a defective
distribution). However, some of the replies pointed out the
unlikelihood of such a contrast given the acoustic equivalence of
released and unreleased voiceless stops at least.

Nonetheless, the allophonic info received has provided a wealth of
interesting data which I will pursue, especially with respect to the
notion of some sort of context-sensitivity for sonority. E.g., there
appears to massive neutralisation of contrast to unreleased forms in
some lgs,; also, why do stops so often appear to favour non-sonorous
forms in final position, e.g. David Foris (pers. comm. and IJAL 1973)
notes that Sochiapan Chinantec allows only glides and glottal stop in

The following is a brief summary of the replies and refs received (in
alphabetical order according to name rather than simply listing the
lgs -- my apologies if I have alphabetized on an inapproriate name).
My thanks to all who replied. I have endeavoured to respond to all
these people individually.

Naturally, I extend complete absolution to all respondents. The
summary below represents my own imperfect understanding, but not
necessarily the views of the original respondents.

Unreleased Cs: replies received by Simon Corston to 31/Mar/93

Bauer, Laurie
 Mentioning at least some dialects of English as having unreleased
 allophones, Also Cantonese, and other SE Asian lgs (e.g.

Bird, Dani
 UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics: statistical work mentioned by
 geoffrey Nathan (I have yet to follow up on this)

Donnelly, Simon
 Mentioning unreleased final stops in Indonesian.

Dyvik, Helge
 Mentioning Vietnamese as having unreleased stops syllable-final.

Foris, David (pers. comm.)
 Mentioning English dialects with unreleased stops phrase final.

Huffman, Alan
 Mentioning an unreleased allophone of /t/ final in his dialect of
 Am. English.

Ikoro, Suanu
 Kana, a Cross-River lg of Sth Eastern Nigeria: obstruents are
 unreleased word finally (citing unpub. students' course essays)

Iverson, Gregory
 Pointing out final-position only. Mentioning massive
 neutralisation in Korean.

 Gregory also supplied two papers, both of which appear to be rich
 in relevant info, and which I will give serious attention once the
 storm (i.e. thesis) has passed:

 `Pronunciation Difficulties in ESL:
 Coda consonants in English interlanguage', Fred R. Eckman and
 Gregory K. Iverson, Uni of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

 `Sonority and MArkedness among Onset Clusters in the
 Interlanguage of ESL Learners', Fred R. Eckman and Gregory K.
 Iverson, Uni of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Koontz, John
 Suggesting the acoustic equivalence of released and unreleased
 (voiceless) stops.
 Also, mentioning a possible difference between British and Am.
 dialects with respect to release of final voiceless stops.

Ladefoged, Peter
 Citing Ladefoged, _A Phonetic Study of West African Languages_,
 CUP 1968: Wolof (spoken in Senegal) which older authorities cite
 as having a phonemic contrast between released vs. unreleased
 stops in some dialects, a contrast which Peter was not able to
 verify in his own research.

 Also, mentioning Munda, citing David Stampe.

Mathias, Gerald
 Mentioning Korean and English

Ogden, Richard
 Thai: unreleased plosives in final position, citing a non-
 phonemic analysis in Eugenie Henderson: _Prosodies in
 Siamese_ (1949) repr. in
 Palmer (1970)

Plag, Ingo
 Mentioning Thai final plosives as unreleased.

Stampe, David
 Chinese lgs, Korean, Munda lgs with syllable/word final
 unreleased stops.
 English where release is variable and interacts with rhythm etc.
 Release also appears to affect vowel length rather than voicing of
 following C.

Nathan, Geoffrey
 Cited Dani Bird. Also Malay which additionally neutralises
 voicing contrasts, and Vietnamese and Cantonese.
 French and Italian with obligatory release.


Simon Corston
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