The non-Malayic languages of Sumatra and the Barrier Islands

Bradley J. McDonnell & Christina L. Truong

To appear in Adelaar, Alexander and Antoinette Schapper (eds.), The Oxford Guide to the Malayo-Polynesian Languages of Southeast Asia (Oxford Guides to the World’s Languages). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher link: Forthcoming, May 2023.

In this chapter, we present a typological overview of the non-Malayic Malayo-Polynesian languages of Sumatra and the Barrier Islands (NMLS). These languages are extremely diverse. They share few typological features other than those due to their shared Austronesian inheritance, their general geographic position, and the contact they have all had with Malayic languages. Section 1 describes the consonant and vowel inventories, stress, and phonological processes. Section 2 presents an overview of common affixes and morphological processes in the languages. Section 3 covers basic syntactic properties including grammatical relations, case, agreement, word order, and noun phrase structure. Section 4 describes some aspects of tense, aspect, modality, and mood in NMLS. Section 5 summarizes the chapter and describes directions for further research including the need for more documentation and description of NMLS. The principal languages we draw on for our typological generalizations and examples include: Acehnese, Gayo, Karo Batak, Toba Batak, Simeulue, Sikule, Nias, Mentawai, Enggano Rejang, Nasal, and Lampung.

How does vowel harmony develop? Evidence from Behoa, a language of Indonesia

Christina L. Truong
Presentation at LSA 2020, 2-5 January 2020

This paper presents evidence from Behoa (Austronesian; Indonesia), showing that vowel harmony developed through phonologization of earlier vowel allophony which was enhanced through vowel-to-vowel coarticulation. The steps of development seen suggest that other morphological, lexical, and prosodic factors favored the rise of VH, including the shape and stress patterns of roots and suffixes, and the contrastive load of low vowel phonemes. Cross-linguistic examples of vowel phenomena showing similar steps of development are also discussed. This study represents new descriptive work on VH in a lesser-known language and contributes to the relatively small body of research on the diachrony of VH.
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The phonology of Tajio Sija

Christina Truong with Derek Harman
Working paper based on original data. 2015.

This paper explores the phonology of the Sija variety of Tajio by comparing it with published research on other Tajio varieties, namely Kasimbar (Mayani 2013) and Sienjo (Himmelmann 2001). Sija is a village in West Sidoan, Parigi-Moutong, Central Sulawesi. Much of the data presented in this paper were collected and recorded in September 2015 in Palu, Central Sulawesi. Other supplementary data were collected by Derek Harman in Sija between 2007-2016 with a variety of speakers.

While Tajio Sija and the Central varieties from Kasimbar and Sienjo exhibit a rather low degree of lexical similarity for (what are considered) closely related varieties, our study shows that Tajio Sija is quite similar phonologically to the Central varieties. Additionally, our investigation of nasal obstruent sequences and reduplication in Tajio raises some questions. It is unclear what might motivate marked initial NCV patterns to emerge as an allowed or even preferred reduplicant shape. Tajio reduplication patterns may also shed light on the question of whether the reduplication base is best considered to be a phonological unit or a morphological unit.