On the perceptual robustness of preaspirated stops [Poster]
Some phonological patterns are rare crosslinguistically, others commonplace. Rare patterns must be (a) seldom innovated or (b) diachronically unstable. For instance, preaspirated stops occur in < 1% of languages, while postaspirated stops occur in almost 29% (Maddieson 1984). Prevailing explanations have considered only (b), attributing preaspiration’s scarcity to a presumed but unverified perceptual inferiority to postaspiration. Preaspirated stops are hard to hear, it is claimed, thus diachronically unstable (Silverman 2003, Bladon 1986). This study concludes from both experimental and typological evidence that preaspirated stops are better characterized as infrequently innovated but diachronically stable, consistent with Greenberg’s (1978) State-Process model.
Ian D. Clayton. "On the perceptual robustness of preaspirated stops [Poster]" Linguistic Society of America. Baltimore, Maryland. Jan. 2010.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ian_clayton/4