A Grammar of Nahavaq (Malakula, Vanuatu) by Dimock, Laura Gail

By Dimock, Laura Gail

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For example, /mjatar/ ‘shrivelled’, /mjewel/ ‘unravelled’, and /mwopwoj/ ‘disassembled’. For roots containing high vowels, most contain either /a/ or /e/ in the prefix: /mwahulhul/ ‘hard-working’, /mjelimj/ ‘soft’. But there is also a minority that have identical vowels in the prefix and in the base: /mundus/ ‘decomposed’, /mwisirsir/ ‘crumbly’. 36 35 There are a few words for which I was not able to determine conclusively whether they started with a glottal stop or a vowel. This includes grammatical words like /(ʔ)et/ ‘but’, and /ohoj/ ‘simply’, which cannot occur after either kind of ti-, and words like /(ʔ)et/ ‘COMPL’, which seemed to behave differently for different speakers.

Because /e/ is acceptable in all contexts and because it is the standard realisation for these vowels in most contexts, I treat the vowels in these prefixes as being underlyingly /e/. 38 I cannot say anything about assimilation within morphemes because I only have synchronic evidence and I cannot observe any processes happening within a single morpheme. However, in my dictionary, there are over 100 separate instances of V1CV1 where V1 represents a non-high vowel and C represents a glottal consonant, and there are no definite cases of two different non-high vowels occurring either side of a glottal consonant.

Superscripting the nasal character is also supported by Riehl’s (2008) finding that prenasalised stops are phonetically different from nasal-plosive sequences in terms of timing. 1. Major allophones This section outlines some notable allophones of Nahavaq’s consonant phonemes, but it is not exhaustive. 1. Glottal stop Looking at spectrograms of Nahavaq glottal stops, it is clear that medial glottal stops are only very rarely produced with full sustained closure of the vocal folds. Figure 5 shows an example of a complete realisation of a glottal stop.

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