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Pre-stopped consonant

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Title: Pre-stopped consonant  
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Subject: Plosives, Faroese language, Nasal consonants, Manx language, Icelandic language
Collection: Cornish Language, Faroese Language, Icelandic Language, Languages of Europe, Manx Language, Nasal Consonants, Plosives
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Pre-stopped consonant

In linguistics, pre-stopping, also known as pre-occlusion or pre-plosion, is a phonological process involving the historical or allophonic insertion of a very short stop consonant before a sonorant, such as a short [d] before a nasal [n] or a lateral [l]. The resulting sounds ([ᵈn, ᵈl]) are called pre-stopped consonants, or sometimes pre-ploded or (in Celtic linguistics) pre-occluded consonants, although technically [n] may be considered an occlusive/stop without the pre-occlusion.

A pre-stopped consonant behaves phonologically as a single consonant. That is, like affricates and trilled affricates, the reasons for considering these sequences to be single consonants lies primarily in their behavior.[1] Phonetically they are similar or equivalent to stops with a nasal or lateral release.


  • Terminology 1
  • In European languages 2
  • In Australian languages 3
  • In Mon–Khmer languages 4
  • In Austronesian languages 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8


There are three terms for this phenomenon. The most common by far is prestopped/prestopping.[2][3] In descriptions of the languages of Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific, preploded/preplosion is common,[4] though prestopped is also used.[5] In accounts of Celtic languages, preoccluded/preocclusion is used almost exclusively.[6][7] Technically, nasals are already occlusives, and are often considered stops; however, some prefer to restrict the term 'stop' for consonants in which there is complete cessation of airflow, so 'prenasalized stop' and 'prestopped nasal' are not tautologies.[8]

In European languages

In place of articulation. Long vowels are often shortened before pre-occluded sounds. In transcription, pre-occluding consonants in final position are typically written with a superscripted letter in Manx[9] and in Cornish.[10]

Examples in Manx include:[11][12]

  • /m/[ᵇm]: trome /t̪roːm/[t̪roᵇm] "heavy"
  • /l/[ᵈl]: shooyll /ʃuːl/[ʃuːᵈl] "walking"
  • /n/[ᵈn]: kione /kʲoːn/[kʲoᵈn] "head"
  • /nʲ/[ᵈnʲ]: ein /eːnʲ/[eːᵈnʲ] "birds"
  • /ŋ/[ᶢŋ]: lhong /luŋ/[luᶢŋ] "ship"

In Cornish, pre-occlusion mostly affects the reflexes of older geminate/fortis /m/, intrinsically geminated in Old Cornish, and /nn/ (or /N/ depending on preferred notation). It also arises in a few cases where the combination /n+j/ was apparently re-interpreted as /nnʲ/.

Examples in Cornish:

  • /m#/[ᵇm]: mabm [mæᵇm] "mother"
  • /VmV/[bm]: hebma [ˈhɛbmɐ] "this"
  • /nn#/[ᵈn]: pedn [pɛᵈn] "head"
  • /VnnV/[dn]: pednow [ˈpɛdnɔ(ʊ)] "heads"

In Faroese, pre-occlusion also occurs, as in kallar [ˈkadlaɹ] 'you call, he calls', seinna [ˈsaiːdna] 'latter'. A similar feature occurs in Icelandic, where the pre-occluding consonant is voiceless, as in galli [ˈkatlɪ] ('error'); sæll [ˈsaitl̥], seinna [ˈseitna]; Spánn [ˈspautn̥].

In Australian languages

Pre-stopped nasals and laterals are found in some Australian Aboriginal languages, such as Kuyani (Adnyamathanha), Arabana, Wangkangurru, Diyari, Aranda (nasals only), and Martuthunira (laterals only).[13] Adnyamathanha, for example, has the pre-stopped nasals [bm, ɟɲ, d̪n̪, dn, ɖɳ ] and the pre-stopped laterals [ ɟʎ, d̪l̪, dl, ɖɭ ], though these are all in allophonic variation with the simple nasals and laterals [m, ɲ, n̪, n, ɳ , ʎ, l̪, l, ɭ ].

In Mon–Khmer languages

Pre-stopped nasals are also found in several branches of Austroasiatic, especially in the North Aslian languages and Shompen, where historical word-final nasals, *m *n *ŋ, have become pre-stopped, or even full voiced stops [b d ɡ].

In Austronesian languages

Hiw of Vanuatu is the only Austronesian language that has been reported to have a pre-stopped velar lateral approximant /ᶢʟ/.[14] Its phonological behavior clearly defines it as a prestopped lateral, rather than as a laterally released stop.[14]

Nemi of New Caledonia has consonants that have been described as postnasalized stops,[15] but could possibly be described as prestopped nasals.[16]

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Adelaar & Himmelmann (2005) The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar
  5. ^ Botma (2004) Phonological Aspects of Nasality
  6. ^ Ball & Fife (2002) The Celtic Languages
  7. ^ "Pre-occluded" is also used in Laver (1994) Principles of Phonetics
  8. ^  
  9. ^ Williams, Nicholas. 1994. "An Mhanainnis", in Stair na Gaeilge: in ómós do Pádraig Ó Fiannachta. Maigh Nuad: Roinn na Sean-Ghaeilge, Colásite Phádraig. §X.4.10. ISBN 0-901519-90-1
  10. ^ Williams, Nicholas. 2006. "Pre-occlusion in Cornish", in Writing on Revived Cornish. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-904808-08-4
  11. ^ Broderick, George (1984–86). A Handbook of Late Spoken Manx. Tübingen: Niemeyer. pp. 3:28–34.  
  12. ^ Broderick, George (1993). "Manx". In M. J. Ball and J. Fife (eds.). The Celtic Languages. London: Routledge. pp. 228–85 [236].  
  13. ^ Mielke 2008:135
  14. ^ a b François (2010)
  15. ^ Ozanne-Rivierre (1995:54).
  16. ^ François (2010:403).


  • Eberhard, Dave (2004). "Mamaindé Pre-Stopped Nasals: An optimality account of vowel dominance and a proposal for the Identical Rhyme Constraint". SIL Electronic Working Papers. 
  • Jeff Mielke, 2008. The emergence of distinctive features.
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