Short Study on Ejectives and Aspiration

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Omzinesý
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Short Study on Ejectives and Aspiration

Post by Omzinesý »

My study question is
Does having ejective consonant phonemes predict having aspirated consonant phonemes?
If yes, should it be explained just so that ejectives are such atypical and hard-to-pronounce sounds and other distinctive features are first utilized? Or is there some deeper connection to do with articulatory phonetics?

The data are
451 languages in UPSID. 119 of them have aspirated stops. (Here, I cheated a bit and supposed that languages with other aspirated sounds have aspirated stops.) 68 of them have ejectives.

I regressed [Aspiration] on [Ejectives] and [Sounds].
[Aspiration] and [Ejectives] are dummies: (1, when the languages has the sounds in question; and 0, when not). [Sounds] is the number of phonemes in the language.

The summary of the statistics is below.

Code: Select all

Call:
lm(formula = Aspiration ~ Ejectives + sounds, data = Totaali)

Residuals:
    Min      1Q  Median      3Q     Max 
-1.0618 -0.2579 -0.1360  0.1564  0.9249 

Coefficients:
             Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)    
(Intercept) -0.229422   0.054078  -4.242 2.69e-05 ***
Ejectives    0.144132   0.055248   2.609  0.00939 ** 
sounds       0.015228   0.001713   8.890  < 2e-16 ***
---
Signif. codes:  0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1

Residual standard error: 0.3943 on 448 degrees of freedom
Multiple R-squared:  0.2047,	Adjusted R-squared:  0.2012 
F-statistic: 57.67 on 2 and 448 DF,  p-value: < 2.2e-16
All statistics are significant with 1% significance level.

Interpreting estimates of dummy variables is a bit abstract, but having ejectives seems to predict having aspiration b = 0.144132
The result is calculated, controlling for [suonds], i.e. the size of phoneme inventory, so the hypothesis that ejectives appear in big phoneme inventories where aspiration is also utilized as a distinctive feature is not enough to explain the correlation. The estimate is though much bigger without the control, below.

I don't think one can pose causation in phonological typology. Phonemes do not cause other phonemes. But, the correlation is interesting, however.
I would have liked to control for linguistic area, as well, but it was to hard this time.

Code: Select all

Call:
lm(formula = Aspiration ~ Ejectives, data = Totaali)

Residuals:
    Min      1Q  Median      3Q     Max 
-0.5294 -0.2167 -0.2167  0.4706  0.7833 

Coefficients:
            Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)    
(Intercept)  0.21671    0.02183   9.927  < 2e-16 ***
Ejectives    0.31270    0.05622   5.562 4.59e-08 ***
---
Signif. codes:  0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1

Residual standard error: 0.4272 on 449 degrees of freedom
Multiple R-squared:  0.06446,	Adjusted R-squared:  0.06238 
F-statistic: 30.94 on 1 and 449 DF,  p-value: 4.587e-08
This was the first time I do quantitative linguistics. I have no clue if linear regression is even the best method for such questions.
My meta-thread: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5760
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eldin raigmore
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Re: Short Study on Ejectives and Aspiration

Post by eldin raigmore »

This was the first time I do quantitative linguistics.
I think this is a fascinating result.
I am now following this thread.
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Creyeditor
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Re: Short Study on Ejectives and Aspiration

Post by Creyeditor »

Is there a way to control for language family and area? I've been mostly on the receiving size of statistics, so I don't know for sure, but maybe you could include Macro-Areas à la Glottolog and Genus à la WALS
Edit: I see you already mentioned it. I think the problem is that there are several areas and language families that have both ejectives and aspirates because they inherited it from the same proto-language or borrowed both from neighbouring languages. That's my guess at least.
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