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Article

They Talk Muṯumuṯu: Variable Elision of Tense Suffixes in Contemporary Pitjantjatjara

by 1,2,*, 1,2,* and 1,2,*
1
School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
2
ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, Melbourne 3010, Australia
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Elisabeth Mayer, Carmel O’Shannessy and Jane Simpson
Languages 2021, 6(2), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020069
Received: 30 January 2021 / Revised: 25 March 2021 / Accepted: 26 March 2021 / Published: 7 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Australian Languages Today)
Vowel elision is common in Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara connected speech. It also appears to be a locus of language change, with young people extending elision to new contexts; resulting in a distinctive style of speech which speakers refer to as muṯumuṯu (‘short’ speech). This study examines the productions of utterance-final past tense suffixes /-nu, -ɳu, -ŋu/ by four older and four younger Pitjantjatjara speakers in spontaneous speech. This is a context where elision tends not to be sociolinguistically or perceptually salient. We find extensive variance within and between speakers in the realization of both the vowel and nasal segments. We also find evidence of a change in progress, with a mixed effects model showing that among the older speakers, elision is associated with both the place of articulation of the nasal segment and the metrical structure of the verbal stem, while among the younger speakers, elision is associated with place of articulation but metrical structure plays little role. This is in line with a reanalysis of the conditions for elision by younger speakers based on the variability present in the speech of older people. Such a reanalysis would also account for many of the sociolinguistically marked extended contexts of elision. View Full-Text
Keywords: Australian languages; elision; sound change; variation and change Australian languages; elision; sound change; variation and change
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wilmoth, S.; Defina, R.; Loakes, D. They Talk Muṯumuṯu: Variable Elision of Tense Suffixes in Contemporary Pitjantjatjara. Languages 2021, 6, 69. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020069

AMA Style

Wilmoth S, Defina R, Loakes D. They Talk Muṯumuṯu: Variable Elision of Tense Suffixes in Contemporary Pitjantjatjara. Languages. 2021; 6(2):69. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020069

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wilmoth, Sasha, Rebecca Defina, and Debbie Loakes. 2021. "They Talk Muṯumuṯu: Variable Elision of Tense Suffixes in Contemporary Pitjantjatjara" Languages 6, no. 2: 69. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages6020069

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