Onset Prominence in Wubuy Reduplication

Kevin Ryan, Jeffrey Heath


Wubuy (also known as Nunggubuyu; Australia) exhibits a regular and productive pattern of partial reduplication by which the reduplicant is one syllable if its base begins with an obstruent and two if it begins with a sonorant. We compare two approaches to the synchronic analysis of this pattern based on phonotactics and weight, respectively, ultimately arguing for the latter. As we show, an analysis in terms of general markedness constraints (e.g. invoking the unmarkedness of obstruent onsets or regulating sonority combinations across syllables) is not viable. A weight-based account, by contrast, recognizes that obstruent onsets pattern as heavier than sonorant onsets in a number of languages and weight-sensitive systems. Thus, a typologically principled analysis is available in which the reduplicant must be at least as heavy as an obstruent-initial syllable.


reduplication; weight; onset; sonority; Wubuy; Nunggubuyu

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/amp.v9i0.5148

Copyright (c) 2022 Kevin Ryan, Jeffrey Heath

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/