ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

2pSP39. Phonetic structures of endangered languages: Observations and findings.

Ian Maddieson

Peter Ladefoged

Phon. Lab., Linguist. Dept., UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1543

A project to describe the phonetic structures of selected endangered languages was outlined in the preceding abstract. Under this project, data have been collected on a number of languages from East Africa, the Indian subcontinent, North America, Taiwan, and the South Pacific, and further fieldwork is planned. The analysis of these data continues to demonstrate that the languages of the world display greater diversity in their phonetic structures than many linguists anticipate. Illustrations will include Dahalo, a Cushitic language with lateral ejective affricates of unusual type and clicks that are invariably nasalized; Toda, a Dravidian language with an unusually rich inventory of consonants confined to code position, including three different coronal trills (each of which may also be palatalized); and Iaai, and Austronesian language with an explanded set of vowels and an unusually large set of voiceless sonorants. Without knowledge of the kind provided by our research, linguists and speech scientists would be in danger of assuming that the phonetic patterns known from familiar languages demonstrate the full range of sounds that can be utilized in possible human languages. [Work supported by the National Science Foundation.]