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LSPhon 04: Ma Manda Phonology

Artikel-Nr.: ISBN 9783862886029
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Ma Manda Phonology


Ryan Pennington
James Cook University


This study presents a phonological description of Ma Manda (ISO 639-3: skc), a Finisterre-Huon language of the Trans-New Guinea family. This is accomplished through a sketch of the segmental phonology, syllable structure and phonotactics, suprasegmental features, and morphophonemic alternations.


In addition to documenting the phonological domains listed above, particular emphasis is given to several unique and interesting processes. First, /i/ and /u/ tend to be reduced to the high central [ɨ] in unstressed environments. Related to this is a rule of epenthesis whereby the same segment ([ɨ]) is inserted between disallowed consonant clusters. These two processes are discussed from both a synchronic and a diachronic perspective. Next is a process of long distance nasal agreement, also known in the literature as nasal consonant harmony (Hansson 2010, Walker 2011). In Ma Manda, NV (nasal+vowel) sequences initiate the prenasalization of a following tautomorphemic voiced plosive. For example, the word /mədə/ ‘talk’ is pronounced as [məndə]. Furthermore, both voiceless and voiced heteromorphemic plosives undergo the same alternation: /mo-qə/ → [moɴqə] ‘go down and...’ and /mo-be/ → [mombe] ‘go down!’. Ma Manda is the only language known to exhibit this pattern. Finally, a number of complex and phonetically unmotivated alternations are triggered when consonants concatenate across morpheme boundaries. For example, the lateral /l/ is realized as a voiceless alveolar stop ([t]) when adjacent to any nasal (e.g., /l+m/→[tm] and /m+l/→[mt]). Mappings such as /lm/→[tm] are quite unexpected from the perspective of sonority-based constraints like the Syllable Contact Law (Hooper 1976, Seo 2011). Nevertheless, in Ma Manda these processes are robust, productive, and regular. Consequently, several aspects of the sound patterns of this understudied language of Papua New Guinea are noteworthy for the contribution they make to linguistic typology in general, and to phonological theory in particular.


ISBN 9783862886029 (Hardbound). LINCOM Studies in Phonology 04. 230pp., incl. ca. 400 audio files, 2 video files. 2015.


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