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Phondi Meeting: Andries Coetzee on voicing co-ocurrence in Afrikaans

Friday, October 26, 2012
12:00 AM
Lorch 473

How changes from Dutch to Afrikaans lead to the creation of a new voicing co-occurrence restriction

Andries Coetzee will present in Phondi today on a new project about his native language, Afrikaans. This will also be a practice run for a colloquium that he will give about this topic later in November.

On the origin of voicing co-occurrence restrictions: The case of Afrikaans

Many languages have restrictions on the co-occurrence of laryngeally marked segments (such as voiced obstruents, aspirates, glottalized consonants, etc.). Current theories of sound change ascribe the origin of these restrictions either to speaker-oriented articulatory forces (grammaticalization of articulatory simplification) or to listener-oriented perceptual forces (grammaticalization of misperception). In this presentation, I will argue for a third possible source for these co-occurrence restrictions, based on a newly developing restriction in Afrikaans. I will argue that co-occurrence restrictions can also arise via a lexical route. Through the gradual lexical accumulation of sound changes, a pattern consistent with a co-occurrence restriction can accidentally arise in the lexicon of some language. Once the pattern has been lexically established, language users can then elevate the pattern to a grammatical principle via a statistical learning mechanism.

I will first establish the existence of the voicing co-occurrence in Afrikaans relying on the three kinds of evidence: (i) Evidence for the pattern in the Afrikaans lexicon. (ii) The results of a wug-test with Afrikaans speakers. (iii) Evidence from non-standard minority varieties of Afrikaans in which the restriction has been established more firmly than in Standard Afrikaans.

I will then trace the developments of the Afrikaans lexicon from Dutch, showing that the lexical pattern in Afrikaans is an accidental side-effect of a series of unrelated sound changes that applied in the development from Dutch to Afrikaans.