6. The phonetics of Bitur

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2021
Authors
Rogers, Phillip G.
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University of Hawai'i Press
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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.
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phonetics, language documentation, Papuan languages, phonology
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Rogers, Phillip G. (2021)
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Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
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