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Kiput Historical Phonology

Robert Blust
Oceanic Linguistics
Vol. 41, No. 2 (Dec., 2002), pp. 384-438
DOI: 10.2307/3623315
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3623315
Page Count: 55
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Kiput Historical Phonology
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Abstract

The languages of northern Sarawak are noteworthy for their unusual phonological histories. Even among these, Kiput is exceptional. All North Sarawak languages reflect a split of the Proto-Austronesian voiced obstruents into a series of plain voiced obstruents and a parallel series of phonemic voiced aspirates, and most of the same languages have fronted low vowels after a voiced obstruent, or have developed systems of verbal ablaut from the infixes *-um- and *-in-. On top of these widely shared innovations Kiput shows diachronic evidence for such atypical changes as intervocalic devoicing, lowering of diphthongal nuclei unless a voiced obstruent occurs earlier in the word, *f > s, and possibly postnasal devoicing, as well as synchronic evidence for the spontaneous nasalization of nonlow vowels before final p, t, k (but not glottal stop), constraints on moraic structure conditioned by syllable onset, and the alternation of b with s. Although some languages may have undergone more sound changes, or may have more radically transformed the shapes of protoforms through heavy phonological erosion, with the possible exception of the Berawan dialects of northern Sarawak the concentration of bizarre sound changes seen in Kiput probably is unrivalled among the more than 1,000 members of the Austronesian language family.

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