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mar. 24/09/2019 atelier Histoire et Ecologie des Langues: Erich Round (University of Queensland) "The Phonologies of Australia: Sounds of an exceptional continent"
14h00-15h30
MSH-Andre Frossard

The 400 languages and 25 language families of Australia are famed for their highly uniform phonologies. How this degree of uniformity is even possible is one of the great unsolved mysteries of human cultural diversification. In this talk I introduce the key properties of Australian phonologies and concentrate on three particularly interesting matters: [1] the unusual way in which place of articulation operates in the phonologies of the continent, [2] recurrent processes of sound change which, ironically, act to keep phonemic inventories in a stable state, and [3] a recent proposal by Butcher (2019), that the cause of all of this is ultimately epidemiological: Australian phonologies have adapted to a population that suffers widespread hearing loss due to inner ear infections in infancy.




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