Against a regular epenthesis rule for Hmong-Mien

  • Martha Ratliff


*mbl-/*mbr- (Ratliff 2010) and *m.l(ɣ)-/*m.r(ɣ)- (Ostapirat 2016) have been proposed as reconstructions for correspondence sets that include NCL-, CL-, N-, and C- onsets across the Hmong-Mien family. Ostapirat assumes that the stop arose by a regular rule of epenthesis in the protolanguage. I examine the arguments for these two reconstructions and conclude that epenthesis in an onset is not without cross-linguistic support, but it is not the better analysis in this case. The arguments against a regular epenthesis rule for Hmong-Mien are based primarily on laryngeal contrasts in stops occurring in this position and the relationship of NCL- onsets to Proto-Hmong-Mien prenasalized stops. Secondary arguments involve exceptions to an epenthesis rule, and a reconsideration of the loanword evidence.