LINGUIST List 8.45

Fri Jan 17 1997

Sum: Bilabial trill

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. cpeust, Sum: bilabial trill

Message 1: Sum: bilabial trill

Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 20:50:18 +0000
From: cpeust <>
Subject: Sum: bilabial trill

Dear linguists,

A while ago I put the following query on the list:

There is an IPA-symbol 'B' which is meant to render a bilabial trill.
Does anyone of you know a language in which this sound is used in
regular words apart from onomatopoetic expressions?

I got replies from the following 17 people, to all of whom I say thank 

Jeff Allen
Joaquim Brandao de Carvalho
Robert Early
Daniel L. Everett
Ralf-Stefan Georg
Lee Hartmann
Olaf Husby
Miriam Meyerhoff
Timothy J Pulju
Malcolm Ross
Nick Sherrard
Keith W. Slater
Joan Spanne
Robin Thelwall
Larry Trask
Mary Ward
Paul Warren

I was informed of the following languages to make use of a bilabial
trill, which according to Larry Trask should more exactly be analysed
as a prenasalised stop with trilled release in probably all languages
where it occurs. If not otherwise indicated, the sound either is
phonological rather than phonetical or I have no information on their
phonological status.

Amuzgo (used only exceptionally)
Baka (SW-Sudan, rarely)
Isthmus Zapotec (in few words only)
Kele (New Guinea)
Kurti (Admirality Islands)
Mangbetu (North-Eastern Zaire) (voiced and voiceless! according to
 J. B. de Carvalho)
Mewun (Vanuatu) (voiced and voiceless! according to J. Spanne)
Na?ahai (Admirality Islands)
Ngwe (Cameroon)
Nweh (Cameroon) (perhaps identical to Ngwe?)
Piraha (allophone of /b/)
Titan (New Guinea)
Uripiv (Vanuatu)
some dialects of Yi (Tibeto-Burman)

Other languages were made known to me which do not have a simple
bilabial trill but a bilabial trill with accompanying dental closure
(something like tB):

Abkhaz (possible realisation of the phoneme /tw/)
Oro Win

According to M. Ward, a language in Nigeria called Rindre, Nungu,
Wamba and a few other names possesses a labiodental flap.

Several respondents referred my to Ladefodged and Madiesson "The
Sounds of the World's Languages", Oxford: Blackwell 1995 which I have
not yet been able to consult.

Carsten Peust
Seminar of Egyptology and Coptology
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