Nasal Fortitioning of Undergoer Markers in Long Jegan and Long Teru Berawan

Author: Jürgen M. Burkhardt (Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Malaysia)
Speaker: Jürgen M. Burkhardt
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


Long Jegan Berawan (LJg) and Long Teru Berawan (LTu) are two closely related Berawan language varieties. The LJg lect is spoken in five villages and the LTu lect in two settlements on the Tinjar tributary of the Baram river, Sarawak. According to Blust (1974, 2013), they belong to the Berawan-Lower Baram branch of the North Sarawak language family. The two lects exhibit a reduced system of two voices, Actor Voice (AV) and Undergoer voice (UV), which is typical for most languages in Borneo apart from Sabah. Also widespread among North-Sarawak languages and Melanau but rare otherwise is the occurrence of AV- and UV-Ablaut, a phenomenon that LJg and LTu also exhibit. The marking of the undergoer with infix –en- is also typcial for that language family as is the loss of the first syllable after infixation with –en- in bases with an initial bilabial obstruent (p-en- > n-, b-en > n-). On the other hand, –en- possesses the atypcial allomorphs d- and –ed- in LJg and d- and –el- in LTu. The paper will first provide an overview of undergoer marking in the two lects before turning to its main focus, which is the investigation of the occurrence of the forementioned undergoer allomorphs d-, -ed and –el- in the context of historical sound changes from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) through Proto-Berawan (PBn) to LJg and LTu. The paper argues that PBn *-en- > LJg –ed-, LTu –el- and PBn *n- > LJg/LTu d- are cases of nasal fortitioning that can be explained in the context of other fortitioning processes that occurred in the historical development of the two lects.


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Keywords: Long Jegan Berawan, Long Teru Berawan, Berawan language