Australian Coronal Onsets

Australian Coronal Onsets and Markedness Implications

By Ivy Hauser

Many Australian languages have multiple coronal consonants which contrast based on the laminal/apical and anterior/posterior distinctions. This paper will focus on the coronal voiceless stop series of Australian languages and licensing in onset position. The coronal series [t̪ t t ʈ] shows an implicational hierarchy by place of articulation for which sounds are allowed as word initial onsets across languages. This provides a mini-typology which can be captured by constraint ranking.

The goals of this paper are first to provide an Optimality Theoretic account for the onset restriction facts for Australian coronals. This will be done using the harmonic alignment of two scales (Prince and Smolensky, 1993/2004). The second goal is to explore implications of this analysis for markedness relations between coronal places of articulation.