I understood Ear of Sphinx to mean a language that has one sibilant, and that it be some kind of post-alveolar sibilant rather than alveolar/dental.Creyeditor wrote:IIUC, you want a language where alle coronal fricatives are post-alveolar and where one of them is palatalized?Ear of the Sphinx wrote:Are there languages with /ɕ/ or /ʃ/ but no /s/?
I think, you won't find any language descripion that has this contrast. If there are two sibilants, many people asume, that one of them has to be the more basic one, even if the phonetic recording could be used as evidence against that.
I recently recorded an Indonesian speaker and he clearly had a post-alveolar non-palatalized non-rounded sibilant as his 'default'. Since Indonesian has /ɕ/ as a loan phoneme, you might call that a case where the two co-exist.
From their reply to Shimobaatar's comment (which I commented on too, apparently around the same time EoS was writing), they're also looking for a system where the only sibilant is post-alveolar and does not contrast with something could be seen as an /s/-substitute, e.g. /θ/ (which in such systems appears to have developed from an older /s/).
I suppose from a sound change perspective, it could be possible, but potentially unstable:
Say you have a language with only one fricative, either /h/ or /x/. This fricative fronts to [ç] in some environments (typically adjacent to front vowels, e.g. ich-laut in German) with [ç] further fronting to [ɕ] or [ʃ] in later years.
Now, let's say something happens which causes the original fronting environment to disappear, causing [h] and [ʃ] to become distinct phonemes, /h/ and /ʃ/. At this stage, /ʃ/ is the only sibilant in the language's inventory.
I'd imagine that such a system would be unstable, however, and that at some point /ʃ/ would shift further forward to