Morphophonology in Australian languages: lenition and assimilation
The phonologies of the world's languages vary not only in their static properties, such as segment inventories and phonotactics, but also in their dynamic, morphophonological alternations. In the study of Australian phonologies, static properties have long held the spotlight, with book-length works appearing already several decades ago on segments (Busby 1980) and phonotactics (Hamilton 1996). Dynamic phonology in comparison has never really taken centre stage.1 Short discussions of at most a
... ions of at most a few pages per phenomenon appear on morphophonological topics in overview works by Evans (1995a), Dixon (1980; 2002) and Baker (2014). These have proven invaluable, but the short format lends itself to the citation of particularly striking or well-known data, and since it lacks space to explore diversity in detail, can contribute to an exaggerated discourse of uniformity in Australian languages, where phenomena are rare, pervasive or absent, but seldom 'diverse'. To address this, the current chapter presents just two studies. Each is on a topic chosen for its particular interest with respect to Australian languages, and owing to the state of the literature described above, each is (at time of writing) the most in-depth survey of that phenomenon in Australian languages to date, and fills a gap in our knowledge that has persisted for too long. Section 1 covers materials and methods. Section 2 examines lenition, a morphophonological process that is particularly common in Australian languages. Section 3 investigates assimilation, and relates it back to key phonotactic generalisations. Section 4 offer concluding remarks and section 5 lists languages in the studies and their sources.