[Corpora-List] universal or individual?

Yuri Tambovtsev yutamb at mail.cis.ru
Thu Jan 26 13:46:00 CET 2006

Dear Corpora colleagues, where do you advise me to publish the article which abstract I enclose in this message? Please, may I ask you to be so kind as to comment on this abstract? Looking forward to hearing from you soon to my correct address yutamb at mail.ru Remain yours most sincerely and cordially Yuri Tambovtsev, Novosibirsk.
Some universal trends in the distribution of labial consonants in world languages
Yuri Tambovtsev, Novosibirsk Pedagog. University yutamb at mail.ru
The aim of this research is to establish the exact limits, in which the labial consonants function. That is, the frequency of occurrence in different language families is studied. It allows us to find out the universal trends in the distribution of labial consonants in world languages. Most all of world languages use labial consonants. The problem is to find out the overall natural foundation why some languages do not use as many labial consonants in their speech chains as the others. There arises a question if the use of labial consonants in the speech chain of any language is determined by some linguistic factors. Or the occurrence of labial consonants is not determined by the system of a particular language. That is, it is determined by the work of the articulation apparatus of man. It also can be that the articulation habits resist the particular system of a language. It may, very well, be, that the system of a language requires more labials in its speech chain, but it is resisted by the work of the articulation tract. The investigation of the use of labial consonants may enlighten the limits, in which the labial consonants may occur. It may explain the force, which makes the human language use labials (cf. Tambovtsev, 2003). To my mind, there exists a universal potential to use labials, though in every concrete language this potential embodies itself to a different degree, because of the press of the phonological system of this or that languages. Therefore, this potential expresses itself differently in different language branches, subgroups, groups, families and super-families. One can find the exact figures on the use of labial consonants elsewhere (Tambovtsev, 2001-a; 2001-b; 2001-c).
We computed the transcribed texts in 167 world languages to see the tendencies of the occurrence of the occurrence of labial consonants. Below we provide the mean frequencies of labials in such language families as Indo-European (Indic - 10.30%; Iranic - 13.38%; Slavonic - 13.65%; Germanic - 11.42%; Romanic - 11.08%), Finno-Ugric (11.22%), Samoyedic (11.46%), Turkic (8.71%), Mongolic (7.28%), Tungus-Manchurian (10.12%), Paleo-Asiatic (7.93%), Caucasian (10.45%), Austronesian (9.11%), Australian (11.18%) and American Indian (10.52%). The data show the general tendencies of the use of labials in world languages. It is vivid that Mongolic and Paleo-Asiatic languages underexploit the use of labials. In fact, the lowest concentration of labial consonants we found in the speech chain of the Itelmen language (6.43%), spoken on the Kamchatka peninsula while the greatest concentration of labials is in Swahili (16.61% of all the phonemes in the speech chain). So, one can see that the use of labials may be depress really much, i.e. by about 3 times.
Tambovtsev, 2001-a - Tambovtsev, Yuri. Kompendium osnovnyh statisticheskih harakteristik funktsionirovanija soglasnyh fonem v zvukovoj tsepochke anglijskogo, nemetskogo, frantsuzkogo i drugih indoevpopejskih jazykov. - Novosibirsk: Novosibirskij klassicheskij institut, 2001. - 130 pages.
Tambovtsev, 2001-b - Tambovtsev, Yuri. Funktsionorovanie soglasnyh fonem v zvukovoj tsepochke uralo-altajskih jazykov. - Novosibirsk: Novosibirskij klassicheskij institut, 2001. - 132 pages.
Tambovtsev, 2001-c - Tambovtsev, Yuri. Nekotorye teoreticheskie polozhenija tipologii uporjadochennosti fonem v zvukovoj tsepochke jazyka i kompendium statisticheskih harakteristik osnovnyh grupp soglasnyh fonem. - Novosibirsk: Novosibirskij klassicheskij institut, 2001 - 130 pages.
Tambovtsev, 2003 - Tambovtsev, Yuri. Tipologija funktsionirovanija fonem v zvukovoj tsepochke indoevpopejskih, peleoaziatskih, uralo-altajskih i drugih jazykov mira: kompaktnost' podgrupp, grupp, semej i drugih jazykovyh taksonov. - Novosibirsk: Sibirskij nezavisimyj institut, 2003. - 143 pages.
Yuri Tambovtsev, Dept of English and Linguistics of Novosibirsk Pedagog. University, P. O. Box 104, Novosibirsk-123, 630123. Russia. yutamb at mail.ru

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