A grammar of Irarutu, a language of West Papua, Indonesia, with historical analysis

Jackson, Jason A. J.
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2014]
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Irarutu is an Austronesian language that has been classified in the literature as a member of the South Halmahera-West New Guinea subgroup. Some differences with other languages of that subgroup can be attributed to extensive historical contact with speakers of one or more neighboring Trans-New Guinea phylum languages. The Irarutu language is considered endangered. It is spoken fluently by fewer than 6000 speakers on the Bomberai Peninsula in West Papua, Eastern Indonesia, but the total ethnic population is closer to 10,000 people. Nearly all Irarutu speakers know Indonesian, the national language, due to the education system, mass media, and economic factors. This has caused language use to decline, particularly among younger people. This dissertation provides background information (Ch. 1) and describes Irarutu phonology and morphophonology (Ch. 2), morphology and syntax (Ch. 3), and historical phonology as well as diagnostics for classifying the language (Ch. 4). Supplementary materials are provided in several appendices. The phoneme inventory has fifteen consonants and seven vowels, including a labiopalatal high vowel. In the dialect described in this dissertation, voiced stops are phonetically prenasalized. Consonant clusters abound. Deletion is the strong form of a process called 'vowel reduction' that contributes to the complexity of Irarutu consonant clusters. Despite the relatively complex vowel system, native speakers feel that their language has a very consonantal character. Irarutu has SVO word-order, prepositions, and most modifiers follow their heads, but possessors precede possessed nouns. Furthermore, a contrast between between alienable and inalienable possession is expressed morphologically. There are no case markers, but several verbalizing morphemes, including subject markers, an active verb marker fi-, and an infinitival/habitual marker na-are used in the language. Serial verb constructions are frequent in naturalistic language data. Topicalization, negation, and politeness are achieved through the use of clitics, =ro 'topic', =ti 'negative', =o 'polite'. It is hoped that the present grammar helps this particular language continue to be spoken in the future, by boosting awareness of the language outside of its traditional location and providing resources for its maintenance. Documentation materials of Irarutu can be accessed at the University of Hawaiʻi's digital language archive, Kaipuleohone.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Linguistics.
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