course: phonology

Britta Cheng


3.1 Introduction

   The features of fricatives:

1.      In UPSID, fricatives occur at 10 places of articulation.

2.      Fricatives contrast in voicing. ex: /f/ vs. /v/.

3.      Fricatives may occur as ejectives /S’/ or as laryngealized sounds.

4.      There is a contrast between central and lateral fricatives.

5.      Sibilance.

   This chapter will examine the fricatives in the inventories of the languages in UPSID, describe their frequency and patterns of co-occurrence, and suggest some generalizations.


3.2 The occurrence of fricatives

   The great majority of the world’s languages have fricatives. In UPSID, 296 of the 317 languages have one or more fricatives. (93.4%)

   An important exception: Australian language


3.3 Number of fricatives per language

   (1).The number of fricatives:
In UPSID, the total number of fricatives is ranged between 0 and 23. The modal number is 2 (11.7%). The mean is little over 4. – table 3.1

   (2).The frequency of fricatives –table 3.2

   (3) Voicing ratio:
A tendency in fricatives that the predominance of voiceless fricatives over voiced one which can be indicated by voicing ratio.


3.4 Implication of voicing in fricatives

   The existence of a given voiced fricative in the inventory of language implies the presence of the voiceless counterpart in the inventory. –table 3.3






3.5 Gamkrelidze’s implicational proposal

   Rather than a general implication that a voiced fricative implies the presence of the voiceless equivalent, Gamkrelidze suggests that the correct generalizations about velar and labial fricative are opposites.

    (1). The voiceless labial fricative phoneme /f/ presupposes the presence of the voiced labial fricative /w-v/. (/f/ includes both /¸/ and /f/. /w-v/ includes /w/, /v/, and /B/.)

    (2). Languages with /F/ but not /x/ are rare exceptions.


3.6 Predicting frequency from intensity

   It may be considered that the more frequent sounds in the inventories of languages are those which have the greatest acoustic energy.
Table 3.4 shows that there is no significant correlation between the intensity and the frequency.


3.7 Estimates of perceptual salience of fricatives

   Wang and Bilger (1973) studied responses to fricatives at the 4 places of articulations used in English, /s, S, f, T/. /s/ is least likely to be misidentified as some other consonant.


3.9 The phoneme /h/

   A large number of languages have a phoneme /h/. Over 63% of the languages have /h/. However, only 13 languages have /ú/. Of these, only two have a contrast of /h/ and /ú/.