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Is Kere Tonal? Seminar Talk by Samantha Rarrick, 24 March 2016 at ANU

Date: 23 March 2016

SamanthaSpeaker: Samantha Rarrick, PhD Candidate, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

When: Thursday, 24 March 2016, 4pm

Venue: Engma Room (Rm 5019), Coombs Building, ANU


Kere is a variety of Sinasina (ISO 693-3 sst) spoken in the Simbu province of Papua New Guinea by fewer than 1000 individuals. It is closely related to Kuman, Dom, Chuave, Golin, Nomane, and Salt-Yui (Capell 1949; Foley 2000; Lewis, Simons, and Fennig 2015; Wurm 1961) Building off Hardie’s 2003 thesis, my ongoing dissertation research aims to describe and analyze the tonal system of Kere. The tonal systems of both Kere and Kuman demonstrate unusual features in that neither is strictly like a pitch-accent or dense lexical tone system (Hardie 2003). Instead, they each share features with both types of system. This suggests that a continuum-based or feature-based approach for describing tonal systems is best, as opposed to a dichotomy (Donohue 1997; Hulst & Smith 2010; Hyman 2009; McCawley 1978). In this presentation, I discuss my research on this language up to this point, including background information about Kere and its ongoing documentation, some of the phonological and tonological rules and patterns of Kere, and questions which I hope to answer in my remaining fieldwork including how tone changes across the other varieties of Sinasina.


Capell, A. 1949a. “Distribution of Languages in the Central Highlands, New Guinea”, Part 2. In Oceania, Vol. XIX, No. 3, pp.234-253.

Donohue, Mark. 1997. “Tone Systems in New Guinea”. In Linguistic Typology, Vol. 1 (3), pp.347-386.

Foley, William A. 2000. “The languages of New Guinea”. In Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 29, pp.357-404.

Hardie, Peter. 2003. Is Kuman tonal?: An account of basic segmental and tonological structure in the Papuan Language Kuman. M.A. sub-thesis: Australia Nation University.

Hyman, Larry M. 2009a. How (Not) to Do Phonological Typology: The Case of Pitch-Accent. Language Sciences, 31(2-3), 213-238.

Hulst, Harry van der. 2010. “Word accent: Terms, typologies, and theories”. In Goedemans, Rob, Harry van der Hulst & Ellen van Zanten. (eds.) 2010. Survey of Word Accentual Patterns in the Languages of the World. De Gruyter Mouton: New York.

Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2015. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Eighteenth edition. SIL International: Dallas, Texas. Online version: Accessed 11/29/2015.

McCawley, James D. 1978. “What is a Tone Language?” In Fromkin, Victoria (ed.) Tone: A Linguistic Survey, pp.113-131. Academic Press: New York.

Wurm, S.A. 1961. “New Guinea Languages”. In Current Anthropology, Vol.2, No. 2, pp.114-116.

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