Volume 12, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Through comparison of regular sound correspondences in three closely related Tibeto-Burman (TB) languages, Ersu, Lizu, and Duoxu (collectively “ELD”), informed by external comparison with other TB languages and recent phonetic analyses of the production of voiceless nasals, we reconstruct *fricative-nasal sequences in their common ancestor, Proto-ELD.

In the development of these historic clusters, two pathways of change can be recognized. Their difference lies in the divergent relative phasing of velic and oral gestures in the original fricative-nasal sequences:

  • (i)  fricative weakening (from a tight cluster): *FN > N̥ > h̃ > x
  • (ii)  fricative strengthening (from a loose cluster): *F-n > *F-t > t > k or *F‑n > s

The different reflexes observed in Ersu, Lizu, and Duoxu represent different points along these two developmental pathways. These reconstructions and pathways of development have implications for our understanding of both universal (phonetic) and language-specific aspects of change in fricative-nasal sequences. The first pathway makes it possible to explore the process of nasal devoicing beyond voiceless nasals so as to enrich our understanding of nasal devoicing in natural languages. The co-existence of two opposite pathways of change, on the other hand, provides insights into the morphological and syllabic structure of words with contiguous fricative-nasal sequences in ELD languages at different points in time – insights that may be valuable in examining the history of other languages and language families beyond the ELD cluster.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ali, Latif, Ray Daniloff & Robert Hammarberg
    1979 Intrusive Stops in Nasal-Fricative Clusters: An Aerodynamic and Acoustic Investigation. Phonetica36:2.85–97. 10.1159/000259949
    https://doi.org/10.1159/000259949 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bartee, Ellen
    2014 Dongwang. Phonological Profiles of Little-Studied Tibetic Varietiesed. byJackson T.-S. Sun, 77–125. (= Language and Linguistics Monograph Series 55.) Taipei: Academia Sinica, Institute of Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Beddor, Patrice S., Rena A. Krakow, & Louis M. Goldstein
    1986 Perceptual Constraints and Phonological Change: A Study of Nasal Vowel Height. Phonology Yearbook31. 197–217. 10.1017/S0952675700000646
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0952675700000646 [Google Scholar]
  4. Beddor, Patrice S., James D. Harnsberger, & Stephanie Lindemann
    2002 Language-Specific Patterns of Vowel-to-Vowel Coarticulation: Acoustic Structures and Their Perceptual Correlates. Journal of Phonetics30:4.591–627. 10.1006/jpho.2002.0177
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jpho.2002.0177 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bhaskararao, Peri & Peter Ladefoged
    1991 Two Types of Voiceless Nasals. Journal of the International Phonetic Association21:2.80–88. 10.1017/S0025100300004424
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100300004424 [Google Scholar]
  6. Blankenship, Barbara
    1994 Phonetic Structures of an Endangered Language: Khonoma Angami. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America95:5.2875–2876. 10.1121/1.409408
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.409408 [Google Scholar]
  7. Blankenship, Barbara, Peter Ladefoged, Peri Bhaskararao & Nichumeno Chase
    1993 Phonetic Structures of Khonama Angami. Fieldwork Studies of Targeted Languages (UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics)841.127–141.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Blevins, Juliette & Andrew Garrett
    1993 The Evolution of Ponapeic Nasal Substitution. Oceanic Lingustics321.199–236. 10.2307/3623193
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3623193 [Google Scholar]
  9. Blevins, Juliette
    2018 Evolutionary Phonology and the Life Cycle of Voiceless Sonorants. Typological Hierarchies in Synchrony and Diachronyed. bySonia Cristofaro & Fernando Zúñiga, 29–60. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.121.01ble
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.121.01ble [Google Scholar]
  10. Bradley, David
    2003 Lisu. The Sino-Tibetan Languagesed. byGraham Thurgood & Randy J. LaPolla, 222–235. London: Curzon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Busà, M. Grazia
    2007 Coarticulatory Nasalization and Phonological Developments: Data from Italian and English Nasal-Fricative Sequences. Experimental Approaches to Phonologyed. byMaria-Josep Solé, Patrice Speeter Beddor & Manjari Ohala, 155–174. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Chao, Yuen Ren
    1930 ə sɩstəm əv “toun-lɛtəz”. Le Maître Phonetique301.24–27.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Chirkova, Katia
    2008 Essential Characteristics of Lizu and the Lizu-Ersu-Tosu Relationship. Presentation at the 41st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics (ICSTLL-41), London, September21–22 2008.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. 2014a Kami. Phonological Profiles of Little-Studied Tibetic Varietiesed. byJackson T.-S. Sun, 1–75. (=Language and Linguistics Monograph Series 55.) Taipei: Academia Sinica, Institute of Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. 2014b The Duoxu Language and the Ersu-Lizu-Duoxu Relationship. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area37:1.104–146. 10.1075/ltba.37.1.04chi
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ltba.37.1.04chi [Google Scholar]
  16. 2015 A Phonological Sketch of Duoxu. Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale44:2.97–121. 10.1163/19606028‑00442p01
    https://doi.org/10.1163/19606028-00442p01 [Google Scholar]
  17. 2016 Lizu (Ersu). The Sino-Tibetan Languagesed. byRandy J. LaPolla & Graham Thurgood, 823–839. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. 2019 Comparison Constructions in Lizu (Tibeto-Burman). Faits de Langues. Comparaison d’égalité et de similitude / Comparison of Equality and Similarityed. byClaudine Chamoreau & Yvonne Treis, 50:1.25–44. 10.1163/19589514‑05001005
    https://doi.org/10.1163/19589514-05001005 [Google Scholar]
  19. Chirkova, Katia & Yiya Chen
    2013a Lizu (Illustrations of the IPA). Journal of the International Phonetic Association43:1.75–86. 10.1017/S0025100312000242
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100312000242 [Google Scholar]
  20. 2013b Xumi, Part 1: Lower Xumi, the Variety of the Lower and Middle Reaches of the Shuiluo River (Illustrations of the IPA). Journal of the International Phonetic Association43:3.363–379. 10.1017/S0025100313000157
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100313000157 [Google Scholar]
  21. Chirkova, Katia, Yiya Chen & Tanja Kocjančič Antolík
    2013 Xumi, Part 2 : Upper Xumi, the Variety of the Upper Reaches of the Shuiluo River (Illustrations of the IPA). Journal of the International Phonetic Association43:3.381–396. 10.1017/S0025100313000169
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100313000169 [Google Scholar]
  22. Chirkova, Katia & Zev Handel
    2013a Diachronic Developments of Voiceless Nasals in Ersu, Lizu, and Related Languages. Paper presented at the46th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, August 7–10.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. 2013b Diachronic Developments of Voiceless Nasals: The Case of Ersu, Lizu, and Related Languages. Paper presented at the3rd Workshop on the Tibeto-Burman languages of Sichuan, Paris, September 2–4.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. 2019 “Brightening” in Ersu, Lizu, Duoxu and Neighboring Languages. Paper presented at the5th Workshop on the Tibeto-Burman languages of Sichuan, Tianjin, August 21–23, 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Chirkova, Katia, Dehe Wang, Yiya Chen, Angélique Amelot & Tanja Kocjančič Antolík
    2015 Ersu. Journal of the International Phonetic Association45:2.187–211. 10.1017/S0025100314000437
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100314000437 [Google Scholar]
  26. Chirkova, Katia, Patricia Basset & Angélique Amelot
    2019 Voiceless Nasal Sounds in Three Tibeto-Burman Languages. Journal of the International Phonetic Association481.1–32. 10.1017/S0025100317000615
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100317000615 [Google Scholar]
  27. Dai, Qingxia 戴庆厦, Huang Bufan 黃布凡, Xu Shouchun 许寿椿, Chen Jiaying 陈嘉瑛 & Wang Huiyin 王会银
    1992 Zang-Mian Yuzu Yuyan Cihui《藏缅语族语言词汇》 [A Tibeto-Burman Lexicon]. Beijing 北京: Zhongyang Minzu Daxue 中央民族大学出版社.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Dantsuji, Masatake
    1984 A Study on Voiceless Nasals in Burmese. Studia Phonologica181.1–14.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. 1986 An Acoustic Study on the Distinction of Place of Articulation for Voiceless Nasals in Burmese. Studia Phonologica201.1–11.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Daudey, Henriette
    2014 A Grammar of Pumi. Doctoral Dissertation, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
  31. Garellek, Marc, Amanda Ritchart, and Jianjing Kuang
    2016 Breathy Voice During Nasality: A Cross-Linguistic Study. Journal of Phonetics591.110–121. 10.1016/j.wocn.2016.09.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2016.09.001 [Google Scholar]
  32. Gogoi, Pamir
    2018 Acoustic Characteristics and Perception of Voiced and Voiceless Nasals in Mizo and Angami. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America143:3.1754. 10.1121/1.5035739
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5035739 [Google Scholar]
  33. Gogoi, Pamir & Ratree Wayland
    2018 Perception of Voiceless Nasals in Mizo and Angami. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America144:3.1720. 10.1121/1.5067625
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5067625 [Google Scholar]
  34. Greenlee, Mel & John J. Ohala
    1980 Phonetically Motivated Parallels between Child Phonology and Historical Sound Change. Language Sciences2:2.283–308. 10.1016/S0388‑0001(80)80019‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0388-0001(80)80019-2 [Google Scholar]
  35. Hoffmann, Maureen
    2018 Inter- and Intra-Speaker Variability in the Production of Voiceless Nasal Consonants. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America143:3.1968. 10.1121/1.5036480
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5036480 [Google Scholar]
  36. Huang, Bufan 黃布凡
    1987 Qiangyu yuyin yabian zhong phaichi biyin de qushi羌语语音演变中排斥鼻音的趋势 [The Tendency to Lose Nasals in the Development of Qiang Phonology]. Minzu Yuwen《民族语文》 [Minority Languages of China] 51.19–26.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Huffman, Marie K. & Thomas J. Hinnebusch
    1998 The Phonetic Nature of “Voiceless” Nasals in Pokomo: Implications for Sound Change. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics19:1.1–20. 10.1515/jall.1998.19.1.1
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jall.1998.19.1.1 [Google Scholar]
  38. Jessen, M., & M. Pétursson
    1998 Voiceless Nasal Phonemes in Icelandic. Journal of the International Phonetic Association281.43–53. 10.1017/S002510030000623X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S002510030000623X [Google Scholar]
  39. Johnson, Keith, Christian DiCanio & Laurel MacKenzie
    2007 The Acoustic and Visual Phonetic Basis of Place of Articulation in Excrescent Nasals. UC Berkeley Phonology Lab Annual Report, 529–561. 10.5070/P70N17F74X
    https://doi.org/10.5070/P70N17F74X [Google Scholar]
  40. Krakow, Rena A., Patrice S. Beddor & Louis M. Goldstein
    1988 Coarticulatory Influences on the Perceived Height of Nasal Vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America83:3.1146–1158. 10.1121/1.396059
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.396059 [Google Scholar]
  41. Ladefoged, Peter
    1971Preliminaries to Linguistic Phonetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Lu, Shaozun 陆绍尊
    2001 Pumiyu Fangyan Yanjiu《普米语方言研究》 [A Study of Pumi Dialects]. Beijing 北京: Minzu Chubanshe 民族出版社.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Matisoff, James A.
    1975 Rhinoglottophilia: The Mysterious Connection between Nasality and Glottality. Nasa’lfest: Papers from a Symposium on Nasals and Nasalizationed. byCharles A. Ferguson, Larry M. Hyman & John J. Ohala, 265–287. Stanford, CA: Language Universals Project.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. 2003Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and Philosophy of Sino-Tibetan Reconstruction. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. 2004 “Brightening” and the Place of Xixia (Tangut) in the Qiangic Branch of Tibeto-Burman. Studies on Sino-Tibetan Languages: Papers in Honor of Professor Hwang-cherng Gong on his Seventieth Birthdayed. byYing-chin Lin, Fang-min Hsu, Chun-chih Lee, Jackson T.-S. Sun, Hsiu-fang Yang & Dah-an Ho, 327–353. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Michaud, Alexis
    2006 Three Extreme Cases of Neutralisation: Nasality, Retroflexion and Lip-Rounding in Naxi. Cahiers de Linguistique – Asie Orientale35:1.23–55.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. 2008 Phonemic and Tonal Analysis of Yongning Na. Cahiers de Linguistique – Asie Orientale37:2.159–196. 10.1163/1960602808X00064
    https://doi.org/10.1163/1960602808X00064 [Google Scholar]
  48. Moran, Steven & Daniel McCloy
    (eds.) 2019PHOIBLE 2.0. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Online: phoible.org (last accessed on27 July 2021).
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Ohala, John J.
    1975 Phonetic Explanations of Nasal Sound Patterns. Nasa’lfest: Papers from a Symposium on Nasals and Nasalizationed. byCharles A. Ferguson, Larry M. Hyman & John J. Ohala, 289–316. Stanford, CA: Language Universals Project.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. 1983 The Origins of Sound Patterns in Vocal Tract Constraints. The Production of Speech, ed. byPeter F. MacNeilage, 189–216. New York: Springer Verlag. 10.1007/978‑1‑4613‑8202‑7_9
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-8202-7_9 [Google Scholar]
  51. 1997 Emergent Stops: Diachronic and Phonetic Data. Proceedings of the Seoul International Conference on Linguistics, 84–91. Seoul: Linguistic Society of Korea.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Ohala, John J. & Manjari Ohala
    1993 The Phonetics of Nasal Phonology: Theorems and Data. Nasals, Nasalization, and the Velumed. byMarie K. Huffman & Rena A. Krakow, 225–249. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. 10.1016/B978‑0‑12‑360380‑7.50013‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-360380-7.50013-2 [Google Scholar]
  53. Ohala, John J. & M. Grazia Busà
    1995 Nasal Loss before Voiceless Fricatives: A Perceptually-Based Sound Change. Rivista di Linguistica (=Special Issue on The Phonetic Basis of Sound Changeed. byCarol A. Fowler) 71.125–144.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Ohala, John J. & Maria-Josep Solé
    2010 Turbulence and Phonology. Turbulent Sounds: An Interdisciplinary Guideed. bySusanne Fuchs, Martine Toda & Marzena Zygis, 37–97. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110226584.37
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110226584.37 [Google Scholar]
  55. Rabha, Saswati, Priyankoo Sarmah & S. R. Mahadeva Prasanna
    2019 Aspiration in Fricative and Nasal Consonants: Properties and Detection. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America146:1.614–625. 10.1121/1.5116566
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5116566 [Google Scholar]
  56. Rao, Min
    2015 Description du Guiqiong: langue tibéto-birmane (famille sino-tibétaine). Doctoral Dissertation, EHESS.
  57. Recasens, Daniel
    2012 The Phonetic Implementation of Underlying and Epenthetic Stops in Word Final Clusters in Valencian Catalan. Journal of the International Phonetic Association42:1.65–90. 10.1017/S0025100311000508
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100311000508 [Google Scholar]
  58. Rossato, Solange
    2004 Quelques statistiques sur la nasalité vocalique et consonantique. Actes des 25èmes Journées d’Études sur la Parole. Fès, Maroc, 433–436.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Shosted, Ryan
    2006 The Aeroacoustics of Nasalized Fricatives. Doctoral Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
  60. 2011 An Articulatory-Aerodynamic Approach to Stop Excrescence. Journal of Phonetics391.660–667. 10.1016/j.wocn.2011.07.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2011.07.001 [Google Scholar]
  61. Shosted, Ryan, Christopher Carignan & Panying Rong
    2012 Managing the Distinctiveness of Phonemic Nasal Vowels: Articulatory Evidence from Hindi. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America131:1.455–465. 10.1121/1.3665998
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3665998 [Google Scholar]
  62. Solé, Maria-Josep
    2007 The Stability of Phonological Features within and across Segments: The Effect of Nasalization on rication. Segmental and Prosodic Issues in Romance Linguisticsed. byPilar Prieto, Joan Mascaró & Maria-Josep Solé, 41–65. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.282.05sol
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.282.05sol [Google Scholar]
  63. 2012 Natural and Unnatural Patterns of Sound Change?The Initiation of Sound Change: Perception, Production, and Social Factorsed. byMaria-Josep Solé & Daniel Recasens, 123–145. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.323.11sol
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.323.11sol [Google Scholar]
  64. Sun, Hongkai 孙宏开
    1982 Ersu (Duoxu) hua jianjie尔苏(多续)话简介 [An Outline of Ersu (Duoxu)]. Yuyan Yanjiu《语言研究》 [Linguistic Inquiry] 21.241–264.
    [Google Scholar]
  65. 1983 Liujiang liuyu de minzu yuyan ji qi xishu fenlei六江流域的民族语言及其系属分类 [Minority Languages of the Six River Valley and Their Genetic Cassification]. Minzu Xuebao《民族学报》 [Scholarly Journal of Nationalities] 31.99–274.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Tabain, Marija, David Bradley & Defen Yu
    2019 Central Lisu (Illustrations of the IPA). Journal of the International Phonetic Association49:1.129–147. 10.1017/S0025100318000129
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100318000129 [Google Scholar]
  67. Terhiija, Viyazonuo & Priyankoo Sarmah
    2020 Aspiration in Voiceless Nasals in Angami. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America148:4.2474. 10.1121/1.5146854
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5146854 [Google Scholar]
  68. Tucker, Benjamin V. & Natasha Warner
    2010 What it Means to be Phonetic or Phonological: The Case of Romanian Devoiced Nasals. Phonology271.289–324. 10.1017/S0952675710000138
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0952675710000138 [Google Scholar]
  69. Tsuchida, Ayako, Abigail Cohn & Masanobu Kumada
    2000 Sonorant Devoicing and the Phonetic Realization of [Spread Glottis] in English. Working Papers of the Cornell Phonetics Laboratory131.167–181.
    [Google Scholar]
  70. Warner, Natasha
    2002 The Phonology of Epenthetic Stops: Implications for the Phonetics–Phonology Interface in Optimality Theory. Linguistics40:1.1–27. 10.1515/ling.2002.004
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.2002.004 [Google Scholar]
  71. Warner, Natasha & Andrea Weber
    2002 Perception of Stop Epenthesis at Syllable Boundaries. Proceedings of the International Conference on Spoken Language Processing, Denver, Colorado, September 2002, 1121–1124.
    [Google Scholar]
  72. Wright, James T.
    1986 Nasalized Vowels in the Perceptual Vowel Space. Experimental Phonologyed. byJohn J. Ohala & Jeri J. Jaeger, 45–67. Orlando: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  73. Yu, Dominic
    2008 The Mianning Dialect of Lizu: An Introduction. Paper presented atICSTLL-41, SOAS, University London, September 18–21, 2008.
    [Google Scholar]
  74. 2012 Proto-Ersuic. Doctoral Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
  75. 2019 Proto-Ersuic and Doshu. Presentation at the52nd International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. University of Sydney, June 25, 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  76. Zhang, Sihong
    2013 A Reference Grammar of Ersu: A Tibeto-Burman language of China. Doctoral Dissertation, James Cook University.

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error