A phonological typology of prestopped nasals in Australian languages

Greggery, Alex (2014). A phonological typology of prestopped nasals in Australian languages Honours Thesis, School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Greggery, Alex
Thesis Title A phonological typology of prestopped nasals in Australian languages
School, Centre or Institute School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Erich Round
Total pages 94
Language eng
Subjects 20 Language, Communication and Culture
2003 Language Studies
200399 Language Studies not elsewhere classified
Abstract/Summary Prestopping of nasals is a phonological phenomenon which occurs as a product of late velum lowering in the articulation of a nasal consonant, causing an epenthetic stop before the velum opens and the nasal is articulated. Works on prestopping generally fall into one of two categories: language-specific descriptions (Hercus 1972, 1994; Austin 1981; Sommer 1969), and theoretical descriptions which draw on a small number of the former (Butcher 1999, 2006; Round 2014). However, an issue arises in that the conclusions of these theoretical studies are generally based on a small set of languages, usually from the same South-Central Australia linguistic area. This study aims to test the conclusions made in these theoretical papers from a typological standpoint, by surveying prestopped nasals as they occur in Australian languages. 32 languages were found to exhibit prestopping of nasals in some way, distributed throughout the country. Each of these languages was then analysed using a set of 15 questions designed to test the hypotheses made in the theoretical literature, the results of which were entered into a FileMaker Pro database for easy comparison. The results were divided into two categories: structural conditions operating on prestopping, and historical and areal factors. The results of this first category found that although the majority of languages demonstrated prestopping operating according to the predicted structural conditions, there was a regularly occurring subset of languages which operated contrary to expectations. Significantly, these languages occurred in discrete regions in Eastern Queensland and New South Wales, as well as in Southern Victoria, and never in the South-Central region where the majority of prestopping theory is derived from. From the results of the second category, I argue that prestopping necessarily develops from a geminate nasal even where prestopping is seen as a result of areal diffusion. I also find that invariable initial dropping correlates strongly with phonemic prestopping, and argue that invariable initial dropping is necessary in the development of phonemic prestopped nasals. Finally, I tentatively propose a set of what I term Contiguous Prestopping Regions (CPRs), which are discrete areas in which prestopping can be attributed to one chain of influence. Ultimately, I conclude that the situation regarding prestopped nasals in Australian languages is more complex than initially thought, as the majority of theory about prestopping has been drawn from only one CPR, and because we find two CPRs in which prestopping occurs contrary to the expectations put forth in the literature.

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Created: Mon, 25 Aug 2014, 08:42:37 EST by Ms Katrina Hume on behalf of School of Languages and Cultures