NO FRICATIVES IN AUSTRALIA.

I was pleased to learn, via a thread at Tenser, said the Tensor, that a lack of fricatives or affricates is “virtually universal for all Australian languages, of all families.” Furthermore, the phenomenon is almost entirely limited to Australia and the adjacent regions; the list given by The Tensor (created from the UCLA Phonological Segment Inventory Database) has only two outliers (AUCA: S. American, Andean; DINKA: Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Nilotic, Dinka-Nuer); as he says, “That’s an areal feature if I’ve ever seen one.” And yet another rebuttal to the universalists (who used to claim that all languages have fricatives).

Comments

  1. joe tomei says:

    For some more information about Australian languages, check out this page for some more details. The phonology of Australian languages is very interesting, with 6 way nasal distinctions and no voicing contrast. One wonders what our theories of phonology would look like if we hadn’t lost so many of them…

  2. Yet another rebuttal to the universalists (who used to claim that all languages have fricatives).

    Sign language must have come as a bit of shock, then?

  3. Some Australian languages have fricatives. Kala Lagaw Ya has the word kwasarr for 2 (

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