LINGUIST List 8.45

Fri Jan 17 1997

Sum: Bilabial trill

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  • cpeust, Sum: bilabial trill

    Message 1: Sum: bilabial trill

    Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 20:50:18 +0000
    From: cpeust <>
    Subject: Sum: bilabial trill

    Dear linguists,

    A while ago I put the following query on the list:

    There is an IPA-symbol 'B' which is meant to render a bilabial trill. Does anyone of you know a language in which this sound is used in regular words apart from onomatopoetic expressions?

    I got replies from the following 17 people, to all of whom I say thank you:

    Jeff Allen Joaquim Brandao de Carvalho Robert Early Daniel L. Everett Ralf-Stefan Georg Lee Hartmann Olaf Husby Miriam Meyerhoff Timothy J Pulju Malcolm Ross Nick Sherrard Keith W. Slater Joan Spanne Robin Thelwall Larry Trask Mary Ward Paul Warren

    I was informed of the following languages to make use of a bilabial trill, which according to Larry Trask should more exactly be analysed as a prenasalised stop with trilled release in probably all languages where it occurs. If not otherwise indicated, the sound either is phonological rather than phonetical or I have no information on their phonological status.

    Amuzgo (used only exceptionally) Baka (SW-Sudan, rarely) Isthmus Zapotec (in few words only) Kele (New Guinea) Kurti (Admirality Islands) Mangbetu (North-Eastern Zaire) (voiced and voiceless! according to J. B. de Carvalho) Mewun (Vanuatu) (voiced and voiceless! according to J. Spanne) Na?ahai (Admirality Islands) Ngwe (Cameroon) Nweh (Cameroon) (perhaps identical to Ngwe?) Piraha (allophone of /b/) Titan (New Guinea) Uripiv (Vanuatu) some dialects of Yi (Tibeto-Burman)

    Other languages were made known to me which do not have a simple bilabial trill but a bilabial trill with accompanying dental closure (something like tB):

    Abkhaz (possible realisation of the phoneme /tw/) Oro Win Wari

    According to M. Ward, a language in Nigeria called Rindre, Nungu, Wamba and a few other names possesses a labiodental flap.

    Several respondents referred my to Ladefodged and Madiesson "The Sounds of the World's Languages", Oxford: Blackwell 1995 which I have not yet been able to consult.

    Carsten Peust Seminar of Egyptology and Coptology Goettingen