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On the phonology of nonsense syllables

Abstract : Nonsense syllables (NS) appear to be widespread in the languages of the world. Through the analysis of data from childlore, folksongs and scat-singing, this paper evaluates three hypotheses (H) regarding the types of syllable structure and phonemes found in NS: H1 states that the most common syllable structure is CV and that clusters with 3 or more consecutive consonants are rare; H2 states that the most common vowels are /i a u/; H3 states that stops are the most common category of consonants. The data supports H1 and H3, while evidence for H2 is less conclusive. An unexpected finding involves the relatively high frequency of liquid (i.e., lateral and rhotic) consonants.
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Andy Arleo. On the phonology of nonsense syllables. IIe Journées d'Etudes Linguistiques, " Syllabes ", 1999, Nantes, France. pp.52-59. ⟨halshs-00650629⟩

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