Journal article

Phonetic evidence for phonotactic change in Nafsan (South Efate)

Rosemary Billington, Nick Thieberger, Janet Fletcher

Italian Journal of Linguistics | Pacini Editore SpA | Published : 2020


Nafsan, an Oceanic language of central Vanuatu, is notable for the complex phonotactic structures it exhibits compared to languages spoken further to the north, and compared to the general preference for CV syllables among Oceanic languages. Various types of heterorganic consonant clusters are found in syllable onsets, and are thought to have arisen from the loss of selected medial vowels. Medial vowel deletion is suggested to be a process of change which has been underway for some time in the language, but the details of how this process operates have not been fully clear. Unresolved questions relating to the status of length in the vowel system and the location of lexical prominence have p..

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Awarded by ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language

Funding Acknowledgements

Sincere thanks to all the Nafsan speakers who have participated in and facilitated this and earlier work. Funding support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (Project ID: CE140100041) is gratefully acknowledged.