Avoidance of Dissimilar Labial Onsets: The Case of Subanon

Published in Oceanic Linguistics, 2016

Recommended citation: Blust, Robert, and Elizabeth Nielsen. "Avoidance of Dissimilar Labial Onsets: The Case of Subanon." Oceanic Linguistics 55, no. 2 (2016): 620-33. Accessed August 25, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26408430. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26408430

Early work on the statistical structure of the "Proto-Austronesian" (PAn) morph revealed a distinct pattern of avoidance between the onsets of adjacent syllables if these were nonidentical labials (\*pVb, \*pVm, \*bVp, \*bVm, \*mVp, \*mVb). Descriptions of many attested languages that have retained a reflex of PAn \*-um- 'actor voice' show that this dispreference extends to affixed words, in which case the avoidance triggers a pattern of allomorphy that has been called "pseudo-nasal substitution." While this pattern is very prominent for word bases that contain an initial labial stop and a reflex of the infix \*-um-, it is much less prominent for word bases that contain an initial labial stop and a reflex of the prefix \*ma- 'stative verb'. Variations in the way this family-wide dispreference is realized in particular languages are surveyed briefly, and then it is shown that Subanon of the southern Philippines extends the usual avoidance pattern by adding to pseudo-nasal substitution a metathesis of mo- (< \*ma-) so as to convert even the reflex of \*ma-p or \*ma-b to an innocuous medial homorganic nasal-stop sequence. [Download paper here](https://www.jstor.org/stable/26408430) Recommended citation: Blust, Robert, and Elizabeth Nielsen. "Avoidance of Dissimilar Labial Onsets: The Case of Subanon." Oceanic Linguistics 55, no. 2 (2016): 620-33. Accessed August 25, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26408430.