Eitan Grossman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Dmitry Nikolaev (Stockholm University) will speak about Co-occurrence classes of consonants and the quest for Basic Consonant Inventory

Abstract

In the literature on segment inventories, it has often been assumed or explicitly postulated that inventories tend to be ‘symmetric’ or ‘economical’ in terms of the distinctive features they employ (cf. the Feature Economy Principle proposed by Clements). In order to test this hypothesis, researchers have usually computed statistics over inventories, such as ‘economy index’ or ‘complexity index’, and then interpreted their values. We propose to address the problem from another angle, by looking at stable constellations of segments that are found across inventories using dimensionality-reduction and clustering methods. We show that the structure of these constellations is not always in agreement with the economy/symmetry hypothesis. One of such co-occurrence classes is the Basic Consonant Inventory, a group of segments found in the majority of the world's inventories. We compare our BCI with previous proposals by Clements and Hyman and analyse its structure.

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This seminar will be held online, via Zoom (our e-meeting service). For access to the Zoom meeting, please contact Bernhard Wälchli in advance: bernhard@ling.su.se

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