Journal of Linguistics

On the rarity of pre-aspirated stops 1

a1 University of Illinois

Article author query
silverman d   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Pre-aspirated stops, known to be quite rare in the world's languages, are shown herein to be significantly rarer still. Their aspiration component is typically reinforced by an oral gesture that is influenced by the following stop and/or the preceding vowel. Alternatively, the aspiration component weakens to zero and is replaced by vowel length. In this typological study I document the phonetic details of so-called pre-aspirates and offer phonetic explanations for their rarity and their diachronic instability.

(Received January 17 2002)
(Revised December 27 2002)

c1 Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, U.S.A. E-mail:


1 Thanks to Paul Foulkes, Gunnar Hansson, Hans Hock, Jose Hualde, Anatoly Liberman, and two Journal of Linguistics referees.