Segmental Phonetics and Phonology in Caucasian languages


This chapter surveys the major topics of Caucasian segmental phonetics and phonology, focusing on topics with broader implications for general phonetic and phonological theory. The author first presents an acoustic phonetic analysis of phonemic inventories in the three Caucasian families, including both a review of recent instrumental data on the topic as well as a new analysis of new and existing experimental acoustic data. This analysis focuses on four primary topics: obstruents with different laryngeal features, typologically unusual segments, small vocalic inventories, and pharyngealization. The new acoustic data from a nonce-word experiment in Georgian and Megrelian offer evidence that aspiration in voiceless stops gradually, yet significantly shortens if another voiceless stop precedes the relevant one in a given word. The second part reviews analyses of Caucasian phonotactics, primarily of South Caucasian consonant clusters that play a crucial role in discussions on production versus perception in phonology. The chapter concludes with a collection of phonological alternations that have potential for future research on phonology.

Publication date: 
February 1, 2021
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Beguš, G. (2021). Segmental Phonetics and Phonology in Caucasian languages. In The Oxford Handbook of Languages of the Caucasus, edited by Maria Polinsky. Oxford: Oxford University Press.