14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Harmony and Sonority in Georgian

Priscilla McCoy

Berkeley, CA, USA

It has been claimed that in Georgian, harmonic consonant clusters have a single release, regardless of the number of consonants in the cluster [1]. Harmonic consonant clusters are those clusters that group together based on manner of articulation, e.g. voiced, aspirated, ejective, etc. [1,2,3,4]. To examine this claim, harmonic and non-harmonic consonant clusters were recorded and analyzed in order to (1) assess the phonetic reality of the initial claim; and (2) to compare durations of cluster releases and whole cluster segments. Results of the distribution of release durations show a correlation to a sonority hierarchy [5]. This builds on previous work on Georgian, where it was found that while the use of a prefix {h} was decreasing [6], the pattern of its loss manifested a marked sonority hierarchy in two respects. I investigate here whether these hierarchies hold true across other phonological processes in Georgian.


  1. Aronson, Howard I. 1982. Georgian: A Reference Grammar, Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Publishers.
  2. Clements, G. N. 1990. The role of the sonority cycle in core syllabification. In Kingston, J. and M. E. Beckman (ed.) Between the grammar and physics of speech. Papers in Laboratory Phonology 1. Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  3. Dirr, A. (1928), Einfuehrung in das Studium der kaukasischen Sprachen, Leipzig.
  4. Jakobson, R., G. Fant, and M. Halle. 1951. Preliminaries to Speech Analysis: the Distinctive Features and their Correlates, Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press.
  5. Marr, R. and Briére. 1931. La langue Georgienne. Paris.
  6. Rudenko, B. 1940.Grammatika gruzinskogo jazyka, Moscow, Leningrad.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  McCoy, Priscilla (1999): "Harmony and sonority in Georgian", In ICPhS-14, 447-450.