By Merlan, Francesca C.
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Extra resources for A Grammar of Wardaman: A Language of the Northern Territory of Australia
Since there is no other compelling evidence for a contrast between /yi/ and /i/ morpheme-initially, nor, indeed, any independent evidence for vowel-initial morphemes (save one α-initial one) in the language, this can apparently be treated as a specialization in the noun class morphemes. The vowel /i/ is realized as a high, front, maximally tense [/] in open syllables, and particularly before the palatal segments /j/, /ny/, /ly/, both semivowels, and also the rhotic /rr/, as in the following examples (in some, more than one condition is met): [ 'warrija ] 'alligator' [ 'lidi ] 'long-horned grasshopper' [li'warrga ] 'ground sugar bag' [ 'girrgilang ] 'galah' f 'ginyang ] catfish species [ 'ginydan ] 'stone spear point' In the last form above, the high and tense vowel quality is the main auditory cue signalling the palatal articulation of the following nasal, which before the stop normally evidences no palatal off-glide.
The orthography is convenient in that it requires no special diacritics. However, the digraph ng representing the velar nasal needs to be distinguished from the sequence apical nasal plus velar stop , as in the word /dongo/ 'in a line'. go. , yibiwan-gu 'man, person' (Dative). 12 Chapter 2 Word-finally, the palatal digraphs are inverted (ly is written as yl, and ny as yn), because this seems to make it easier for those who already read English to approximate the correct pronunciation. In Wardaman, the bilabial series involves true bilabial occlusion.
In contrast with the above V\ + homorganic glide + Vi sequences, combinations with vowel and heterorganic glide, [iwi] and [uyu], tend to remain clearly syllabified, or may be only slightly reduced ([yi-ngawuyu] 'wife', [miwinin] 'camp, sleep'). 14 Chapter 2 /e/ is realized as a mid front unrounded, and fairly lax vowel [e] in closed syllables, except before palatal segments, where it tends to be at its highest and tensest It may be slightly higher and tenser in open syllables, including word-finally, but not cardinal [e]: ['bedbog ] ['nienjen ] [ gej ] ['nienyje] [ tiK'gernnan ] [ yinge 'we] [ jenibe ] 'honey eater' 'cheeky' ' ask' (particle) 'to feel, hold, grasp' Dioscorea sp.