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rotokas; practical syllabarology; et alia

From:Emily Zilch <emily0@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 15, 2004, 8:51
{ 20040615,0117 | Nik Taylor }

"I believe Rotokas permits consonant clusters.  The name suggests that
it, at the very least, allows word-final consonants.  The Cambridge
Encyclopedia of Language lists it as having 350 possible syllables, and
with 6 consonants and 5 vowels that pretty much suggests that it *has*
to have at least some clustering."

John Lynch (1998: Pacific Languages, U-HI Maanoa) notes that Rotokas
has six consonants: p t k, v r g. In a footnote (incidentally, the
*only* other thing he has to say about this language), he notes that [
v ] [ r ] [ g ] become /m/, /n/, /N/ in certain environments.

This strongly suggests consonant clusters.

William A Foley (1986: Papuan Languages of New Guinea, U-Cambridge) -
in his ONLY comment on Rotokas - observes that given the universality
of consonant inventories, the complementary distribution of v/m, r/n,
g/N might better be described as NASAL PHONEMES with complementary

No one else I have says a *damn word* about Rotokas, so I can't say if
there is any way to determine (through frequency, historical or
comparative analyses) which is a better idea about what the six
consonants are. Or anything about its grammar or word length or any
sample words or anything else.

Man, I wish I went to MIT steada Harvard, then I could figure out the
maths - would assuming a (C)V(C) syllabic structure allow for 350
possible syllables? Well, CV allows 35 possible syllables, right?

Tired. Must think about this in morning. Can anyone with linguistic
experience please help the poor ijit?



Herman Miller <hmiller@...>