Languages put restrictions on large sonority distances


  • Ruihua Yin



sonority distances, sonority, phonotactics, phonological typology


An underlying assumption in terms of sonority distances is that clusters with large sonority distances are more common than those with small distances, as captured in the unmarked status of large sonority distances and formalized in terms of sonority constraints on consonant clusters. A cross-linguistic survey of attested sonority distances in 357 languages reveals that large sonority distances are not most commonly attested. Rather, there is a point of sonority distance at which the largest number of languages is attested. When the sonority distance exceeds a particular value, the number of languages starts to decrease, regardless of the sonority scales tested. The finding puts the unmarked status of large sonority distances to the test, suggesting a potential constraint that prevents large distances from surfacing.




How to Cite

Yin, Ruihua. 2023. “Languages Put Restrictions on Large Sonority Distances”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5550.