Peripheral consonant

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Tongue shape

In Australian linguistics, the peripheral consonants are a natural class encompassing consonants articulated at the extremes of the mouth: labials and velars. That is, they are the non-coronal consonants. In Australian languages, these consonants pattern together both phonotactically and acoustically. In Arabic and Maltese philology, the moon letters transcribe non-coronal consonants, but they do not form a natural class.

Australian peripheral consonants
Bilabial Velar
Stop p k
Nasal m ŋ
Approximant w


Australian languages typically favour peripheral consonants word- and syllable-initially, while they are not allowed or are rare word- and syllable-finally. This is diametrically opposed to the apicals.

In Martuthunira, the peripheral stops /p/ and /k/ share similar allophony. Whereas the other stops may be voiced between vowels or following a nasal, the peripherals are usually voiceless.

See also