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Phonotactics and the prestopped velar lateral of Hiw: resolving the ambiguity of a complex segment*

  • Alexandre François (a1)
Abstract

Complex segments consisting of two phases are potentially ambivalent as to which phase determines their phonemic status – e.g. whether // is a stop or a nasal. This theoretical problem is addressed here with respect to a typologically unusual phoneme in Hiw, an endangered Oceanic language of Vanuatu. This complex segment, //, combines a velar voiced stop and a velar lateral approximant. Similar phonemes, in the few languages which have them, have been variously described as (laterally released) stops, affricates or (prestopped) laterals. The nature of Hiw // can be established from its patterning in tautosyllabic consonant clusters. The licensing of word-initial CC clusters in Hiw complies with the Sonority Sequencing Principle, albeit with some adjustments. Consequently, the well-formedness of words like /mejiŋə/ ‘berserk’ relies on // being analysed as a prestopped velar lateral approximant – the only liquid in the system.

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Young-mee Yu Cho & Tracy Holloway King (2003). Semisyllables and universal syllabification. In Caroline Féry & Ruben van de Vijver (eds.) The syllable in Optimality Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 183212.

Young-mee Yu Cho & Tracy Holloway King (2003). Semisyllables and universal syllabification. In Caroline Féry & Ruben van de Vijver (eds.) The syllable in Optimality Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 183212.

Terry Crowley (2006). The Avava language of Central Malakula (Vanuatu). Edited by John Lynch . Canberra: Australian National University.

John Lynch (1983). On the Kuman ‘liquids’. Language and Linguistics in Melanesia 14. 98–112.

Richard Wright (2004). A review of perceptual cues and robustness. In Bruce Hayes , Robert Kirchner & Donca Steriade (eds.) Phonetically based phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 3457.

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Phonology
  • ISSN: 0952-6757
  • EISSN: 1469-8188
  • URL: /core/journals/phonology
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