Redressing the Balance on Australian Stop Contrasts: Comments on Austin’s (1988) “Phonological Voicing Contrasts in Australian Aboriginal Languages”

by Andrew Butcher and Nicholas Reid.

Read the paper here. Below is the introduction:

Although the above article has appeared in a volume of Working Papers, rather than in an established journal, it is nevertheless widely available in Australian linguistic circles and, since it claims to be an “Australia-wide survey”, the result of twelve years of research (title footnote), it is likely to be recommended reading for many students of Australian linguistics. It is for these reasons – the claimed scope and the likely readership – that we feel it appropriate to express a number of criticisms we have of this work. These criticisms fall under two major headings: (1) The comparatively scanty treatment of the area of Australia which has the highest concentration of languages with two stop series, namely the ‘Top End’ of the Northern territory; (2) The failure to distinguish adequately between the level of phonological contrast and the level of phonetic parameters underlying the contrast.

Clamor Schürmann’s Barngarla grammar

The work of the German missionaries on South Australian languages in the first half of the nineteenth century has few contemporary parallels for thoroughness and clarity. This commentary on the grammatical introduction to Pastor Clamor Schürmann’s Vocabulary of the Parnkalla language of 1844 reconstructs a significant amount of Barngarla morphology, phonology and syntax.

It should be seen as one of a number of starting points for language-reclamation endeavours in Barngarla, designed primarily for educators and other people who may wish to re-present its interpretations in ways more accessible to non-linguists, and more suited to pedagogical practice.

Read or purchase Mark Clendon’s latest opus here.

Loanwords between the Arandic languages and their western neighbours: principles of identification and phonological adaptation

Loanwords between the Arandic languages and their western neighbours: principles of identification and phonological adaptation

By Harold Koch

This paper summarises the characteristics of loanwords, especially the ways in which they are adapted to the structure of the borrowing language, and surveys the various tests that have been provided in both the general historical linguistics literature and Australianist literature for identifying the fact and direction of borrowing. It then provides a case study of loanwords out of and into the Arandic languages; the other languages involved are especially Warlpiri but to some extent dialects of the Western Desert language. The primary focus is on the phonological adaptation of loanwords between languages whose phonological structure differs especially in the presence vs. absence of initial consonants, in consequence of earlier changes whereby Arandic languages lost all initial consonants. While loanwords out of Arandic add a consonant, it is claimed that loanwords into Arandic include two chronological strata: in one the source consonant was preserved but the other (older) pattern involved truncation of the source consonant. Reasons for this twofold behaviour are presented (in terms of diachronic and contrastive phonology), and the examples of the more radical (older) pattern are individually justified as loanwords, using the criteria discussed earlier in the article.

Prestopping in Kaytetye

Two Types of Pre-stopping in Kaytetye

By Mark Harvey, Ben Davies, Susan Lin, Myf Turpin, Alison Ross, and Katherine Demuth

Kaytetye is an Arandic language of central Australia with approximately 200 speakers. As shown in Table 1, Kaytetye contrasts plain nasals with pre-stopped nasals, an unusual feature for an Australian language. Pre-stopping of both nasals and laterals is common in Australian languages, but it is not typically contrastive (Butcher, 2006; Dixon, 2002). Existing materials on Kaytetye do not report pre-stopping, whether contrastive or not, in laterals. In this paper, we show that Kaytetye does have non-contrastive pre-stopping in laterals.

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.



The word final phonology of Lardil was brought to the attention of linguists by Ken Hale in the 1960s and since then certain properties of the data have led it to occupy a privileged position, in a canon of data sets against which new theoretical proposals are frequently tested. Several seminal arguments for new and high-profile phonological theories are now based at least in part upon analyses of Hale’s data set. After reviewing what is of such interest in Lardil, a body of data is assembled which alters our understanding of the empirical facts and theoretical implications of Lardil phonology. Hale’s process of Laminalization is reanalyzed as Apicalization; constrained lexical exceptions are found with respect to Apocope, Apicalization and Truncation; and a process of Raising is identified. A discussion of the systematicity of these new data, and of their demonstrable antiquity leads to the conclusion that future formal analyses of the language must account not only for already well-known properties of the data, but for the existence of multiple, active patterns that apply selectively throughout the lexicon.


On the Typology of Palatalization. Nicoleta Bateman, Language and Linguistics Compass.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-818X.2011.00294.x

[includes data from Watjarri]

This article presents a typological overview of palatalization, addressing issues such as the definition of palatalization, palatalization types, the sounds that undergo palatalization (targets), and the sounds that trigger palatalization (triggers). In exploring these issues we review five typological studies of palatalization that present a series of implicational relationships among palatalization targets and triggers. For example, if labials palatalize, so do coronals and dorsals, and if low front vowels trigger palatalization, so do high front vowels. The generalizations in these studies further make predictions about possible palatalization grammars we should expect to find, or to not find, in the world’s languages.