Human language diversity and the acoustic adaptation hypothesis

Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics Vol/Iss. 25(1) Acoustical Society of America Published In Pages: 1-13
By Maddieson, Ian, Coupé, Christophe


In the field of bioacoustics, the Acoustic Adaptation theory suggests that variation in vocalization across different species can be accounted for by the acoustic properties of different habitats. Here, the researchers test consonant- and vowel-heaviness in human languages against various environmental variables in order to examine the theory's potential application to our own species. The authors identify a significant negative correlation between consonant heaviness and temperature, precipitation, and tree cover, and some positive correlation with rugosity and elevation as their most important findings, while acknowledging the potentially influential roles of migration and demographic factors in producing this relationship.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
LAPSyD Maddieson et al (2013)Data on consonant & vowel inventories for 706 languages (n = 690)

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