SP24: Phonetic fieldwork in southern New Guinea

Edited by

Kate L. Lindsey & Dineke Schokkin

ISBN-13: 978-0-9979673-2-6

Abstract: This article provides an overview of the phonologies of Southern New Guinea languages, based on the six languages in this special issue plus two others for which JIPA illustrations have recently been published –Yelmek (Yelmek-Maklew family), Ngkolmpu, Nmbo and Nen (Yam family), Idi and Ende (Pahoturi River), Bitur (Marind-Anim branch of Trans-New Guinea) and Urama (Kiwaian branch of Trans-New Guinea). It surveys overall inventory sizes (maximal 28 consonants and 8 vowels, in Nmbo, minimal 13 consonants plus 5 vowels in Urama), and the most important segment types characteristic of the region, including retroflexion in Idi and Ende, labial-velar stops (Nen, Nmbo), rounded stops (Nmbo), relatively large liquid inventories (Pahoturi River) and prenasalised stop phonemes (Ngkolmpu, Nen, Nmbo).

2. A phonetic description of Yelmek
Tina Gregor

Abstract: This paper provides a first description of the phonetics and phonology of a language from the Yelmek-Maklew family, a language family without a genealogical link to any other language family in New Guinea or elsewhere. The variety under consideration in this paper is used by people from the village of Wanam, located in the Papuan Province on the Indonesian side of New Guinea. Wanam is the northernmost of the four villages attributed to the Yelmek branch of the family (ISO 639-3:jel, glottocode: yelm1242). The variety in question has 13 consonant phonemes and 7 vowel phonemes. The vowel inventory includes a phonemic schwa, which is distinct from the epenthetic schwa that is used to split illicit consonant cluster. Noteworthy suprasegmental features include the absence of word-level stress and the fact that interrogative and declarative utterances have the same basic pitch contour.

3. Phonetics and Phonology of Ngkolmpu

Matthew J. Carroll

Abstract: This paper describes the phonetics and phonology of segments in Ngkolmpu, a language spoken in the Merauke region of Indonesian Papua. The language is a member of the the Tonda-Kanum branch of the Yam family and displays a fairly typical segmental inventory for a Yam language with some notable exceptions. There are sixteen phonemic consonantal segments. As commonly found in Papuan languages, the primary manner distinction of stops is between voiceless oral stops and prenasalised stops. Rather unusually, both the plain oral stops and the prenasalised stops are voiceless for the oral period of the articulation. There are seven phonemic vowels and one epenthetic vowel whose distribution is phonotactically determined.

4. The phonetics of Nmbo (Nɐmbo) with some comments on its phonology (Yam family; Morehead district)

Eri Kashima

Abstract: This paper presents aspects of the phonetics and phonology of the Nmbo language as spoken by the Kerake tribe peoples of southern Western Province, Papua New Guinea. The paper is primarily concerned with the phonetics of consonants and vowels, but also presents description and audio examples of stress and clausal intonation patterns.

5. Phonetics and phonology of Idi
Dineke Schokkin, Volker Gast, Nicholas Evans, & Christian Döhler

Abstract: This paper provides a first description of the phonetics and phonology of Idi (Pahoturi River; ISO 639-3: idi, glottocode: idii1243) as spoken by about 1,000 people in the villages of Dimsisi and Sibidiri, located in the Morehead District of Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Idi has a fairly large inventory of 21 consonant phonemes and 8 vowel phonemes. As with other languages spoken in the region, the two central vowels show a hybrid status and could be analysed as sometimes phonemic and sometimes epenthetic. Other noteworthy characteristics are the presence of vowel harmony, voiced and voiceless retroflex plosives/affricates, nasality as a “floating” feature, and coarticulated labial-velar plosives, although the latter most likely originated as loan phonemes from Nen.

6. The phonetics of Bitur
Phillip G. Rogers

Abstract: This paper offers a description of the phonetics of Bitur, a language spoken by less than a thousand people in Western Province, Papua New Guinea. With just thirteen consonants and five vowels, the phoneme inventory of Bitur is fairly typical of a Papuan language and yet relatively small in its more immediate geographic and genealogical contexts. The consonants of Bitur represent five manners of articulation and span four places of articulation. Prenasalized stops are noticeably absent, despite their prevalence in the region and among related languages. The low central vowel /a/ assimilates in height to nearby mid and high vowels, and it provides a means to distinguish high vowels from approximants. The Bitur syllable consists minimally of a vowel nucleus with simple onsets and codas allowed. Vowel length is not contrastive, but it seems to be the most salient prosodic feature of the Bitur word. As the first substantial phonetic description of a Lower Fly language— the least-known language group in Southern New Guinea—this paper represents an important contribution to our understanding of Papuan languages.

7. A phonetic sketch of Urama
Jason Brown, Alex Muir, & Robbie Petterson

Abstract: This paper provides a phonetic sketch of Urama (Glottocode: uram1241), one of the varieties of the Northeast Kiwai group (iso code: kiw). Urama’s consonant and vowel inventories, with 12 and 5 members respectively, are characteristic of Papuan languages generally. Vowel length is contrastive, but may be in the process of being lost. Urama exhibits a pitch accent system, but only a few words are found in which tone alone distinguishes meaning.

SP24 Front Matter

SP24 Cover