Forthcoming: Rarities in phonetics and phonology: Structural, typological, evolutionary, and social dimensions

Natalia Kuznetsova   Cormac Anderson   Shelece Easterday  


Rare phenomena play a key role in forming and challenging linguistic theory. This volume presents multi-faceted analyses of rarities in phonetics and phonology, from a wide variety of theoretical standpoints. Some contributions to the volume analyse language-specific rare features, placing them in a broader cross-linguistic context and looking at a sum of their phonological, phonetic, and evolutionary properties, at times also making connections to sociolinguistic factors. Others consider the same (or similar) phenomena from different analytical angles, with extensive cross-referencing, or take a broad analytical or typological stance towards rare phenomena and discuss what it means to be rare.

The volume provides a nuanced picture of phonetic and phonological rarities in genealogically diverse languages, mostly lesser-studied, from around the globe. Authors were encouraged to attempt to strike a middle ground between radical exoticisation of the rarities at hand (describing them in idiosyncratic terms) and radical normalisation (underplaying the rarity of the phenomena at hand). Highly theory-specific or technical terminology is avoided or explained carefully, in order to make the book maximally accessible for a wide typologically-minded audience.


  • Part I: Introduction
  • Rarities in phonetics and phonology
    Cormac Anderson, Natalia Kuznetsova, Shelece Easterday
  • Why the search for rarities must take phonology seriously
    Pavel Iosad
  • Part II: Rare sound changes
  • *b > -k-: a Berawan sound change for the ages
    Robert Blust
  • Linguistically motivated sound change: revisiting some of the world’s rarest wonders
    Juliette Blevins
  • Consonant epenthesis in Meto: Typologically rare but diachronically explicable
    Kirsten Culhane, Owen Edwards
  • Reconciling the debate about final obstruent voicing: the phonology of Lakota obstruent lenition
    Geoffrey Schwartz, Shanti Ulfsbjorninn
  • Part III: Rare prosodic phenomena
  • Typology and evolution of minimal vowel systems in Central Chadic (Afroasiatic)
    H. Ekkehard Wolff
  • A model of non-modal phonation: ballisticity in Otomanguean languages
    Bien Do Bui
  • A tonological rarity: Tone-driven epenthesis in Ghomala’
    Nicholas Rolle
  • Part IV: Rare vowels
  • The contradictory nature of fricative vowels in Chinese and beyond
    Thom van Hugte, Yiya Chen, Li Guo
  • Uvularization in Queyu phonology
    Xuan Guan
  • Part V: Rare consonants
  • Silent sonorant articulations in Mehri and Shehret
    Janet C. E. Watson, Barry Heselwood, Gisela Tomé Lourido, Amer al-Kathiri, Abdullah al-Mahri
  • Aerodynamic and acoustic correlates of word-initial voiceless nasal geminates of Ikema Miyako Ryukyuan
    Shigeko Shinohara, Qandeel Hussain, Angélique Amelot
  • Preservation and loss of a rare contrast: Palatalization of rhotics in Slavic
    Darya Kavitskaya, Florian Wandl
  • Ejective fricatives in Upper Necaxa Totonac: Complex segments or consonant clusters?
    Rebekka Puderbaugh
  • Part VI: Preaspiration
  • On the rarity of pre-aspirated consonants
    Michaela Hejná
  • Weighing preaspiration
    Radu Craioveanu
  • Pre-aspiration in Ecuadorian Siona
    Marijn van ’t Veer, Martine Bruil, Oleksandra Damonte-Matveienko


Natalia Kuznetsova

Natalia Kuznetsova is an Assistant Professor of general linguistics at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. She received her Candidate of Sciences title in Finno-Ugric languages from the Institute of Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, and her PhD in Digital Humanities from the Università degli Studi di Torino in Italy. Natalia primarily works on phonetics and phonology of endangered and lesser studied languages (Finnic, Guro, Akebu, Udihe, Tuvan, Azov Greek, Baltic etc.), on which she has conducted field studies in the course of more than 20 years. She also practices grammar and dictionary writing, explores phonological typology, language contacts, sociolinguistics, and has interests in the fields of cultural anthropology, populational genetics, and ethnobotany. Natalia has been an author or a co-author of over 50 scientific publications and a co-editor of five collected volumes in linguistics.

Cormac Anderson

Cormac Anderson is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. He received his MA (Old and Middle Irish) from the University of Galway, Ireland, and his PhD (Linguistics) from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. His doctoral work involved a reanalysis of Old Irish phonology within the context of the cross-linguistic typology of minimal vowel systems, while his postdoctoral work has mostly focused on coordinating a database of cognacy in the basic lexicon of Indo-European languages ( He has an interest in the foundational problems of phonological typology, and has worked on developing tools for language comparison (e.g. He has also conducted field studies in Celtic languages (e.g.

Shelece Easterday

Shelece Easterday is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu, United States. She received both her MA and PhD in linguistics from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, United States. Her research takes a crosslinguistic approach to understanding the properties, emergence, and diachronic stability of rare and understudied sound patterns. She received the Joseph Greenberg Award from the Association for Linguistic Typology for her 2017 dissertation on highly complex syllable structure, which was reworked into a book published in 2019 through LangSci Press ( She has also worked in community-led indigenous language revitalization projects in New Mexico, and is currently involved in language documentation efforts in partnership with Micronesian diaspora communities in Hawaiʻi.

book cover


August 28, 2023
LaTeX source on GitHub
Cite as
Kuznetsova, Natalia, Anderson, Cormac & Easterday, Shelece (eds.). Forthcoming. Rarities in phonetics and phonology: Structural, typological, evolutionary, and social dimensions. (Topics in Phonological Diversity). Berlin: Language Science Press.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.