Mittwoch, 01. Dezember 2021, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Claire Bowern (Yale): "Phonological stability"

Titel: "Phonological stability: the phonetics/phonology interface in sound changes"

Online-Vortrag von Prof. Claire Bowern (Yale University, Department of Linguistics)


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Abstract: The starting point for this talk is the apparently surprising uniformity of the phonological systems of Australia's Indigenous languages. While the earlier strong position of Dixon (2001) - that Australian languages are a special case of languages where comparative methods do not apply - is now thoroughly refuted, there remain a number of ways in which Australian languages appear to form a distinct typological group. For example, despite 6000 years of descent from a common ancestor (Bouckaert, Bowern, and Atkinson 2018), most Pama-Nyungan languages have close to identical correspondence sets (cf. Harrington and Tabain 2013) with very similar sound changes in languages across the continent (Harvey 2011; Dench 2001; Austin 1988). More than 80% have consistent, initial stress (Goedemans 2010). Comparison across families shows that Pama-Nyungan shows slower rates of phonological evolution than other families (Moran, Grossman, and Verkerk 2020). And sound correspondences across stable vocabulary in Pama-Nyungan indicate surprisingly few examples of sound change compared to the amount of lexical replacement seen, though the changes we do see and can reconstruct show regular principles according to the comparative method (Alpher 2004). In this talk, I discuss work in progress on whether the apparent phonological similarity is real, why this similarity in phonological systems persists, and how none of the current explanations for the similarity (stability and/or convergence) are adequate to explain the observed patterns. I focus on arguments around how variation leads (or does not lead) to change.

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Laura Grestenberger
Universität Wien
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft