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The Phoneme Inventory of the Aita Dialect of Rotokas

From: Oceanic Linguistics
Volume 45, Number 1, June 2006
pp. 206-209 | 10.1353/ol.2006.0018


Rotokas is famous for possessing one of the world's smallest phoneme inventories. According to one source, the Central dialect of Rotokas possesses only 11 segmental phonemes (five vowels and six consonants) and lacks nasals while the Aita dialect possesses a similar-sized inventory in which nasals replace voiced stops. However, recent fieldwork reveals that the Aita dialect has, in fact, both voiced and nasal stops, making for an inventory of 14 segmental phonemes (five vowels and nine consonants). The correspondences between Central and Aita Rotokas suggest that the former is innovative with respect to its consonant inventory and the latter conservative, and that the small inventory of Central Rotokas arose by collapsing the distinction between voiced and nasal stops.

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