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Sound change and alternation

In linguistics, rhinoglottophilia refers to the connection between laryngeal (glottal) and nasal articulations. The term was coined by James A. Matisoff in 1975.[1]

There is a connection between the acoustic production of laryngeals and nasals, as can be seen from the antiformants both can produce when viewed via a spectrogram. This is because both sounds in a sense have branched resonators: in the production of nasal sound, both the oral cavity and the nasal cavity act as resonators. For laryngeals, the space below the glottis acts as a second resonator, which in turn can produce slight antiformants.

In Krim, a language without contrastive nasal vowels, vowels are nonetheless strongly nasalized after /h/. A similar correspondence occurs after /h/ and /ʔ/ in Pirahã. It has even been attested in some varieties of American English, such as [hɑ̃ːvəd] for Harvard by the Kennedys.[2]

Rhinoglottophilia may have occurred historically in the development of Inor, one of the Gurage languages. Inor has nasal vowels, unusual for a Gurage language, and in many cases these occur where the language etymologically had a pharyngeal or laryngeal consonant.[3] Rhinoglottophilia has been documented elsewhere in Gurage, also.[4] Similar processes have also been reported for Irish,[5] Basque,[6] and in Nyole, where Bantu *p appears as /ŋ/ rather than as /h/ as in other Luhya dialects.

Rhinoglottophilia may occur with any laryngeal sound, not just specifically glottal ones. For example, correspondences such as Khoekhoe xárà meerkat and Khwe xánà banded mongoose (and similar correspondences between nasalized and unnasalized clicks) have been explained as pharyngealization of the vowel in proto-Khoe.

See also


  1. Matisoff (1975)
  2. Childs, 2003, An introduction to African languages, p. 61–62.
  3. Boiving (1996)
  4. Michael Ahland. 2006. Nasal spreading, rhinoglottophilia and the genesis of a non-etymological nasal consonant in Mesmes. Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 13-24.
  5. Ó Maolalaigh (2003)
  6. Igartua, Iván. "Diachronic effects of rhinoglottophilia, symmetries in sound change, and the curious case of Basque". Studies in Language. 39 (3): 635–663. doi:10.1075/sl.39.3.04iga.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Boivin, Robert (1996). Spontaneous nasalization in Inor. Essays on Gurage language and Culture. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2133.
  • Matisoff, James, A. (1975). "Rhinoglottophilia: The Mysterious Connection between Nasality and Glottality", in C.A. Ferguson, L.M. Hyman and J.J. Ohala eds., Nasálfest: Papers from a Symposium on Nasals and Nasalization, Universals Language Project, Stanford University, Stanford, 265-287.
  • Ó Maolalaigh, Roibeard (2003) Processes in Nasalization and Related Issues, Ériu, Vol. 53, pp. 109–132
  • Sprigg, R. K. (1987) "Rhinoglottophilia" re-visited : observations on "the mysterious connection between nasality and glottality", Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, vol. 10, no 1, pp. 44–62 (1 p. 1/2)