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Texts, language consultants, and linguistics: Understanding reduplication in Neverver

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Title:Texts, language consultants, and linguistics: Understanding reduplication in Neverver
Authors:Barbour, Julie
Contributors:Barbour, Julie (speaker)
Date Issued:14 Mar 2009
Description:The Neverver language is spoken by fewer than 600 people in two inland villages on Malakula Island (Vanuatu). A language documentation project was initiated in August 2004 and is now drawing to a close. In this paper, I explore one of the more interesting morphological features of Neverver - the feature of reduplication. I consider how transcribed texts, community language consultants, and linguistic theory have all contributed to developing an understanding of this important feature in Neverver. Reduplication is understood to be a morphological process. It is generally described as type of affixation where the phonological content of the reduplicative affix is underspecified and gains content from the stem or base to which it is attached (cf. Moravcsik 1978; Broselow & McCarthy 1984; Marantz & Wiltshire 2000). Moravcsik (1978: 305) makes the early observation on reduplication that ‘reference is always made both to the meaning and to the sound form of the constituent to be reduplicated’. Thus, in considering reduplication, the semantic features of the simplex stem, as well as its phonological form are deemed relevant. In terms of phonology, the reduplicative prefix in Neverver has the structure CV(C). This structure preserves the language-specific phonotactic constraint on syllables which states that the maximal structure of a well-formed syllable is CVC. In Neverver, productive reduplication is associated with the verb phrase. It is a common element in detransitive constructions including object incorporation and suppression, as well as reflexive and reciprocal constructions. Reduplication is used as a derivational process to form stative verbs and stative nominal modifiers. It is one of the means of expressing participant and event quantity. It is involved in the expression of certain negative constructions. Verbs, nouns, and members of other word classes may exhibit inherent or fossilized reduplication, where a semantically-related plain stem cannot be identified in the corpus. An important characteristic of reduplication in Neverver is that it frequently occurs in conjunction with other morphological and syntactic features to express particular meanings. Arriving at an understanding of the forms and functions of reduplication in Neverver has been the result of working with a large digitized text corpus, collaborating with multiple language consultants to document simplex and reduplicated forms and meanings, and applying a multi-tiered approach to phonological analysis (cf. Clements & Keyser 1983; Goldsmith 1990). I suggest that engaging in language documentation has allowed me to provide a rich record and analysis of reduplication that will have a lasting value for the community of Neverver speakers. References: Broselow, E. & McCarthy, J. 1984. A theory of internal reduplication. The linguistic review 3. 25-88. Clements, G.N., & Keyser, S.J. 1983. CV Phonology: a generative theory of the syllable. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Goldsmith, J.A. 1990. Autosegmental & Metrical Phonology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Marantz, A, & Wiltshire, C. 2000. Reduplication. In Lehmann, C., Booij, G.E, & Mugdan, J. (Eds). Morphologie. Berlin; New York: Mouton de Gruyer. Moravscik, E. A. 1978. Reduplication Constructions. In Greenberg, J. H. (Ed). Universals of human language Vol.3: Word Structure. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections: 1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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