Contact and isolation in hunter-gatherer language dynamics: evidence from Maniq phonology (Aslian, Malay Peninsula)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Maniq, spoken by 250-300 people in southern Thailand, is an undocumented geographical outlier of the Aslian branch of Austroasiatic. Isolated from other Aslian varieties and exposed only to Southern Thai, this northernmost member of the group has long experienced a contact situation which is unique in the Aslian context. Aslian is otherwise mostly under influence from Malay, and exhibits typological characteristics untypical of other Austroasiatic and Mainland Southeast Asian languages. In this paper we pursue a first investigation of the contrastive strategies of the Maniq sound system. We show that Maniq phonology is manifestly Aslian, and displays only minor influence from Thai. For example, Maniq has not developed tone, register or undergone changes typically associated with tonogenesis. However, it departs from Aslian mainstream phonology by allowing extreme levels of variation in the realization of consonants, which in our view are best explained by its distinctive social ecology and geographical isolation.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)956-981
JournalStudies in Language
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Humanities Lab (015101200), Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

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