A seemingly on-going sound change in Takuu language of Papua New Guinea: historical and theoretical implications
Albert Davletshin (Russian State University for the Humanities, aldavletshin@mail.ru)
Journal of Language Relationship, № 12, 2014 - p.1-20
The Takuu language of Papua New Guinea shows both the lateral [l] and the flap rhotic [r] as regular reflexes of Proto-Nuclear-Polynesian *l. Older speakers tend to pronounce it closer to [r] and younger speakers closer to [l]. This situation is likely to be described as a sound change in progress (r → l). However, it is possible to show that distribution of [l] and [r] is predictable, depending on strictly defined phonological environments and the age of the speaker. Thus, a seemingly on-going sound change turns out to be a series of seven different related sound changes which trigger each other. The closely related languages Nukeria and Nukumanu whose speakers maintain close contact with Takuu show only a part of the Takuu distributional patterns for liquids; in these cases we probably deal with shared sound changes that have recently originated in one of the languages. Intricate distributions involving laterals and rhotics on one hand and fricatives on the other are characteristic of Polynesian Outliers. The author suggests that distributions of this kind are responsible for irregular reflexes of Proto-Polynesian liquids and fricatives in modern Polynesian languages.
Keywords: sound change in progress, irregular sound changes, shared phonological innovations, theory of sound change, geminate consonants, liquid consonants, Polynesian languages, Polynesian Outliers, Takuu language of Papua New Guinea
Supplementary materials

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