Prenasalized stops

Kenneth Hyde kenny at UDEL.EDU
Tue Jun 1 11:54:34 UTC 2010

Perhaps at this point, it would be useful to clarify what sort of
"prenasalization" the original question was talking about?  Paz Naylor sent
in a description of a phenomenon that I would call homorganic nasal
assimilation (of an unusual type, since the nasal feature seems to be
spreading from left to right, from the affix to the stem).  The original
question appeared to be asking about a different phenomenon, something more
like pre-nasalization found in sub-Saharan language families like Bantu.  In
these languages, some consonants manifest a feature that has variously been
described as an early VOT, a [+nasal] feature that is realized before the
consonant, or as a nasal segment that becomes an onset to another stop

The closest I've seen to the latter kind of prenasalization in a
Austronesian language was in Javanese.  However, the data is sketchy, since
this was during my grad. studies (and I don't have my notes handy now) and I
was working with only a few informants in the US rather than in Java.
However, for what it's worth, here's what I got.  With my informants, in
front of voiced stop consonants, the "active" prefix for verbs was realized
as prenasalization.  They did not produce a full segment, even.  For "baca"
(to read), for example, the active form came out something like "mbaca"
where the "m" was not a complete segment but was more of an early heavy
start to the voicing feature with nasalization.  Perhaps others in Java can
verify if my informants' pronunciation was typical or not?  In any event, my
personal analysis was to classify this as prenasalization.

If that's the type of prenasalization that the original question was asking
about, I don't think it would occur in Javanese outside that context, but
the kinds of clusters that he asked after might be found in other
languages.  I'd look first at Bantu.


On Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 5:46 AM, Waruno Mahdi <mahdi at>wrote:

> Roger,
> the question is I think a bit difficult to answer, or rather, it will
> be extremely difficult do judge from texts in some unkown language,
> whether that which looks like what you want really is what you want.
> The way I undersand you, you are looking for examples of -C1C2-
> clusters, where C1 and C2 are non-syllabic non-vowels, of which
> C2 is a prenasalized stop, e.g. C1 = _l_, and C2 = _mb_.
> In other words, you do not mean-C1C2C3- where C2=_m_, C3=_b_,
> correct?
> As a first guess, I would suggest looking through some Tibeto-Burmic
> languages, beginning with Tibetan, though I don't know whether it has
> such monosegmental prenasalized stops.
> Otherwise, you wouldn't need to look far. A small internet search
> I did immediately came up with the following AngloSaxon personal
> names:
> Tyler Colmby
> Whitney A. Colmby
> Gary, Tony, and Alice Colmby
> "Colmby" also seems to be a textured chenille upholstry fabric
> according to
> Aloha,
> Waruno
> --
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Kenneth Hyde
Tutoring Center Coordinator, ELI
Instructor, ELI and Dept. of Linguistics
email: kenny at
office: (302) 831-2567
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