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Bilabial Trill (was: rhotics)

From:Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...>
Date:Sunday, December 3, 2000, 11:54
Keith Alasdair Mylchreest wrote:

>On Thu, Nov 30, 2000 at 10:48:08PM -0500, H. S. Teoh wrote: > >> *sigh* I can't whistle nor trill an /r/ :-( >> The bilabial trill is about the only trill I can do. >> >> >> T >> >I remember reading once that the bilabial trill although easy to do (e.g. >"Brrrr, it's cold!") isn't used as a phoneme in any know language. Is that >true. I seems a bit odd given all the "impossible" clicks, glottals, >multiple articulations etc that are used in speech.
According to "The Sounds of the World's Languages" (Ladefoged & Maddieson), they do exist. Not as phonemes, like you said, but as allophones. They only occur in prenasalized instances, and are usually still limited in their occurence to a narrow set of environments. All of the known occurences of bilabial trills historically developed from prenasalized bilabial stop followed by a high rounded vowel, i.e. a sequence of /mbu/. One exception is Luquan Yi (Tibeto-Burman, China) with a fricativized rounded vowel realized as a syllabic bilabial trill. Languages listed in the book with this sound are; Nias (Austronesian, Indonesia), Na?ahai (Austronesian, Vanuatu), Kele (Austronesian, Papua New Guinea), and Nweh (Niger-Kordofanian, Nigeria). One possible reason why its rare, according to the book, is that the lips have a larger mass than either the uvular or the tongue tip. -kristian- 8)