Peripheral consonant

In Australian linguistics, the peripheral consonants are a natural class encompassing consonants articulated at the extremes of the mouth: labials (lip) and velars (soft palate). That is, they are the non-coronal consonants (palatal, dental, alveolar, and postalveolar). In Australian languages, these consonants pattern together both phonotactically and acoustically. In Arabic and Maltese philology, the moon letters transcribe non-coronal consonants, but they do not form a natural class.


Australian peripheral consonants[1]
Bilabial Velar
Stop p k
Nasal m ŋ
Approximant w

Australian languages typically favour peripheral consonants word- and syllable-initially, and they are not allowed or common word- and syllable-finally, unlike the apicals.

In the extinct Martuthunira, the peripheral stops /p/ and /k/ shared similar allophony. Whereas the other stops could be voiced between vowels or following a nasal, the peripherals were usually voiceless.


  1. ^ Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. p. 63. ISBN 0521473780.