Simplifying a system: a story of language change in Lelepa, Vanuatu



Lacrampe, Sebastien
Australian Linguistic Society

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Australian Linguistic Society


This paper focuses on the problem posed by the vowel surfacing during two encliticization processes in Lelepa (Oceanic, Vanuatu), with the nominalizer =na ‘NMLZ’ and the pronominal =s ‘OBL’. For instance, the verbs faam ‘eat’, mat ‘dead’ and fan ‘go:IRR’ are derived as nafaamina ‘food’, nmatena ‘funeral’ and nafanona ‘departure’. While the base forms have the same vowel /a/, those vowels surfacing before =na seem unpredictable. This paper discusses several possible explanations for these vowels and shows that both historical and phonological approaches are needed to account for them. Still, there is variation in the nominalisation of certain native verbs such as raik ‘fish with hand spear’, which is derived as either naraikana or naraikina ‘hand spear fishing’. It is shown that while naraikana is accounted for in diachrony, naraikina results from a reanalysis process indicated by intergenerational variation.



Lelepa, Oceanic, borrowings, vowels, language change


Lacrampe, S. (2012). Simplifying a system: A story of language change in Lelepa, Vanuatu. In M. Ponsonnet, L. Dao & M. Bowler (Eds), Proceedings of the 42nd Australian Linguistic Society Conference – 2011, Australian National University, Canberra ACT, 2-4 December 2011 (pp. 224-245).


Proceedings of the 42nd Australian Linguistic Society Conference 2011


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Australian Linguistic Society Conference

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