Cross-Linguistic Study of Vowel Systems

Authored by: Ioannis Papakyritsis , Angela Granese

Handbook of Vowels and Vowel Disorders

Print publication date:  September  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9781848726123
eBook ISBN: 9780203103890
Adobe ISBN: 9781136246852


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The basic principle of phonemics is contrast: two sounds are in contrast if they can occur in the same environment and are not generally in free variation (e.g., Ball & Müller, 2005). According to Maddieson (1984), the smallest number of phonemic vowels in any of the languages listed in the UCLA Phonological Segment Inventory Database (UPSID) is three and the largest is 24, with the most common number being five.

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