Prenasalized stops

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Tue Jun 1 13:27:20 UTC 2010

Kenneth Hyde wrote:
> 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.
Javanese has prenasalization of that type in lots of monomorphemic words 
as well, as do many (but not all) varieties of Malay and Indonesian.  
Though it's not always immediately obvious whether one is dealing with a 
single complex segment or just a nasal-plus-obstruent-stop cluster.


David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at

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