Revisiting population size vs. phoneme inventory size

Language Vol/Iss. 88(4) Linguistic Society of America Published In Pages: 877-893
By Moran, Steven, McCloy, Daniel, Wright, Richard


Higher population sizes are correlated with a higher number of vowels in a language.


The result is significant, however, the effect size of .0157 predicts an insignificant change in the amount of vowel in a given language, falling well within the standard error for phoneme inventory sizes. The significance in this case is likely the result of a large sample size.


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Hierarchical Mixed-Effects ModelNot supportedp<.05effect size = .0157UNKNOWN


Variable NameVariable Type OCM Term(s)
Population SizeIndependentPopulation
Number of vowelsDependentPhonology