Abstract: This paper is a response to the account by Robert Blust (in the December 2009 issue of this journal) of the origin of the Palauan velar nasals that are found at the beginning of otherwise vowel-initial words and at the end of some Palauan numerals. His claim that they are an “epenthetic” sound change rather than the result of morphological reanalysis is shown to be incorrect. Each of the three objections that Blust raised to the morphological solution of the “mysterious” Palauan velar nasals is shown to be unfounded. It is shown that they are probably fossilized clitic velar nasal ligatures having the same source as those that are found as enclitics on nominal specifiers from Tagalog ang to Malay yang. The paper also responds to Blust’s claims that my earlier reconstruction of Proto–Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) phrase-marking forms and their historical development involve changes unparalleled in historical phonology. A detailed account is provided of what is known about PMP noun phrase structure (especially those with numeral heads), the forms that introduce NPs, and the evidence for reconstructing an attributive marking “ligature” *na (alternating with *=n and *=a) with subsequent changes to *=ŋ and *=ŋa, changes that are commonly found in other languages and that have also left their mark on Palauan.
Oceanic Linguistics – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Jan 27, 2010
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