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>I was thinking more in terms of the Austronesian family, where it is common
>(and they represent a fairly large % of the world's languages)-- many
>Polynesian lgs., and assorted lgs. in the Indonesian area.

I noticed. But language families tend to have their own small-scale 
tendencies - I thought this thread was after more universal tendencies 
instead.


> > By "loss" I mean the loss of the whole phoneme, while leaving the rest 
>of
> > the stops in place.
>
>Hmm, I didn't interpret that as "total loss". So unless /b/ actually merges
>with some other phoneme in the system (resulting in loss of a contrast), 
>the
>shifts b > B/v/w simply replace one phoneme with a new one.

No, I didn't mean "total loss of contrast" either. I guess the terminology 
is a bit ambiguous here.

Anyway, the question remains: are there really numerous languages that have 
shifted /b/ to, say, /B/ universally? I'm sure you have one or two examples, 
but these could be just random exceptions. Meanwhile /p/ > something else 
universally has happened in more than just one language family. (Not always 
thru fricativization, however.)

John Vertical