On the Typology of Palatalization



This article presents a typological overview of palatalization, addressing issues such as the definition of palatalization, palatalization types, the sounds that undergo palatalization (targets), and the sounds that trigger palatalization (triggers). In exploring these issues we review five typological studies of palatalization that present a series of implicational relationships among palatalization targets and triggers. For example, if labials palatalize, so do coronals and dorsals, and if low front vowels trigger palatalization, so do high front vowels. The generalizations in these studies further make predictions about possible palatalization grammars we should expect to find, or to not find, in the world’s languages.