Working paper Open Access
In recent years, nasalization has been a topic of interest in both phonetics and
phonology. Within phonetics, there has been work on the acoustics of nasalization.
including the acoustic effects of vowel nasalization (Beddor (1983), Hawkins and Stevens
(1985) among others). Work in phonology has included consideration of rules of nasal
spreading (Anderson (1972). Hyman (1972; 1982) Poser (1981; 1982) among others) and
of typologies of nasal segment inventories (Ferguson (1963; 1974), Ruhlen (1978).
Maddieson (1984)). Despite this interest, there is no single source in the literature that
provides an overview of the co-occurrence of inventories and rules. The database
presented in this report was compiled to provide such information. The focus is on
languages with inventories or rules deemed unusual.
Issues addressed in this report include the status of the feature [nasal], i.e. the types of
inventories of sounds that have [nasal] as a distinctive feature; the behavior of rules
involving the feature [nasal] and their interaction with different kinds of nasal inventories;
and general issues that cut across both of the above topics.
In order to consider these issues, I have compiled a corpus of 165 languages.
Information about the patterning of the feature [nasal] in each of these languages was
entered into a database. This information was gathered through a computerized search and
from several major sources about nasals and nasalization.
In Section 1 of this paper, I discuss the questions that I sought to address through this
database. This is followed, in Section 2, by a brief description of the major secondary
sources consulted. This includes a description of the kinds of theoretical questions
addressed by each author, and the sorts of language information presented. In Section 3. I
give a brief description of the construction of the database. including the type of language
data used. In Section 4, I present results and discussion. This is followed by an appendix with a description of the format of the database and a database entry for each language and
a bibliography of both theoretical works and the language references cited in the database.