/s/+aspirated stop

Does anyone out there know if there are any languages that have word- or syllable-initial /s/-clusters where the /s/ is followed by an aspirated voiceless stop (e.g. [sph-])?

10 thoughts on “/s/+aspirated stop

  1. Kevin Ryan

    In Sanskrit, for one, aspiration is contrastive on s_V obstruents (only voiceless ones occur in that context) both word-initially and elsewhere. For example, there is a minimal pair in the simple present tense conjugation of “to be”:

    stah “they (dual) are”
    sthah “you (dual) are”

    You also find #sphV (vs. #spV), etc. skhV- is marginal, however, commonly occurring in only one root, skhal- (“stumble, totter” [post-Vedic only]).

    Here are some fun token frequencies of the relevant word-initial sequences from an Epic Sanskrit corpus (many of the actual examples in this corpus are obscured by sandhi, but these results, which count only #sCV sequences after orthographic spaces, should still be roughly indicative of the token frequencies in the language):

    spV 620 : #sphV 190

    stV 754 : #sthV 3218

    skV 240 : #skhV 14

    Most examples of #sth- are from the root sthA- “stand” (cognate with the English).

  2. Lisa Davidson

    Ahhh, Eric, you think too highly of me. Truth be told, I haven’t been keeping up since the summer.

    It just came up in a class, and I didn’t know the answer, so I thought I’d put it out there…

  3. Bert Vaux

    Eastern Armenian has word-initial s followed by aspirated stops, as in the word sp’jurrk’ “diaspora”, where the apostrophe represents aspiration and the rr = a trilled r.

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