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ANU-CoEDL ZOOM Seminar: Reconstructing Yam historical consonant phonology, Matt Carroll, Christian Döhler & Nick Evans, 27 Nov

Australian National University, Nicholas Evans

Date: 20 November 2020

Seminar: Reconstructing Yam historical consonant phonology

Speakers: Matt Carroll, Christian Döhler and Nick Evans

When: 27 Nov2020, 4.30pm (AEDT)

Where: via zoom (please email for zoom link invitation)


In this talk we discuss several interesting aspects of the historical phonology of the Yam languages of southern New Guinea, as part of an ongoing project to reconstruct the sound changes across this family and its three main branches (Yei, Tonda and Nambo). Our previous work on this problem has focused on coronal consonants, leading to the reconstruction of a richer set of place contrasts (including retroflexes) than is found in most modern languages of the family; we confirm this here by bringing in data from the Yei branch, for which we previously lacked the necessary data. In the main part of the talk we pass to the peripheral consonants, a richly differentiated part of the synchronic phonologies of many Yam languages because of the presence of both rounded labials (in Nmbo) and coarticulated labial-velars (in Nmbo and Nen in the Nambo branch, and Nggarna in the Tonda branch) as well as rounded velars in some other languages. We examine whether any of these complex series are reconstructable, or, if not, whether we can trace the sound changes that gave rise to them. 

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University