Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2215-1354
  • E-ISSN: 2215-1362
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper presents a natural speech corpus-based study of word-initial [h]-drop from the Nmbo speech community of southern Papua New Guinea. It is a speech community within a traditional egalitarian multilingual language ecology sustained by a practice of virilocal exogamy, and there is strong intergenerational transmission of local vernacular languages. This study investigates the propensity of word-initial [h]-drop in nouns, based on Nmbo speech data of Kerake tribe people. The results from the Nmbo Sociolinguistic Corpus shows clear age-conditioned variation, with younger speakers showing a higher propensity for [h]-drop. Nmbo speakers residing both within and outside their Nmbo villages of origin appear to be partaking in the innovative [h]-drop. The origin of the [h]-drop appears to be from the village with a more multilingual profile, as would be predicted by the notion of a multilingual (Cheshire, Kerswill, Fox, & Torgersen, 2011Mufwene 2001).


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Abtahian, Maya
    (2018) Style and language maintenance. Paper presented atSociolinguistic Symposium 22, Long Colloquium: Fresh insights on traditional variationist methods in non-English contexts , Auckland, New Zealand, June 28, 2018.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Ayres, Mary C.
    (1983) This side, that side: Locality and exogamous group definition in Morehead area, southwestern Papua. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Baclawski, Kenneth Jr.
    (2018) Diglossia and change from below in Eastern Cham. Asia-Pacific Language Variation, 4(1), 73–102. 10.1075/aplv.17003.bac
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aplv.17003.bac [Google Scholar]
  4. Bates, Douglas , Mächler, Martin , Bolker, Ben , & Walker, Steve
    (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, 67(1), 1–48. 10.18637/jss.v067.i01
    https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bell, Allan , & Holmes, Janet
    (1992) H-droppin’: Two sociolinguistic variables in New Zealand English. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 12(2), 223–248. 10.1080/07268609208599478
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07268609208599478 [Google Scholar]
  6. Blythe, Richard A. , & Croft, William
    (2012) S-curves and the mechanisms of propagation in language change. Language, 88(2), 269–304. 10.1353/lan.2012.0027
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2012.0027 [Google Scholar]
  7. Boersma, Paul , & Weenink, David
    (2016) Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [Software program]. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Campbell, Lyle , & Grondona, Verónica
    (2010) Who speaks what to whom? Multilingualism and language choice in Misión La Paz. Language in Society, 39(5), 617–646. 10.1017/S0047404510000631
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404510000631 [Google Scholar]
  9. Cheshire, Jenny , Kerswill, Paul , Fox, Sue , & Torgersen, Eivind
    (2011) Contact, the feature pool and the speech community: The emergence of Multicultural London English. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 15(2), 151–196. 10.1111/j.1467‑9841.2011.00478.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2011.00478.x [Google Scholar]
  10. Childs, Tucker , Good, Jeff , & Mitchell, Alice
    (2014) Beyond the ancestral code: Towards a model for sociolinguistic language documentation. Language Documentation and Conservation, 8, 168–191.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Cho, Taehong
    (2016) Prosodic boundary strengthening in the phonetics-prosody interface. Language and Linguistics Compass, 10(3), 120–141. 10.1111/lnc3.12178
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lnc3.12178 [Google Scholar]
  12. Cukor-Avila, Patricia , & Bailey, Guy
    (2013) Real time and apparent time. In Jack K. Chambers & Natalie Schilling-Estes (Eds.), The handbook of variation and change (pp.239–262). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. 10.1002/9781118335598.ch11
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118335598.ch11 [Google Scholar]
  13. De Vries, Lourens
    (2012) Speaking of clans: Language in Awyu-Ndumut communities of Indonesian West Papua. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2012(214), 5–26.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Döhler, Christian
    (2018) A Grammar of Komnzo. Berlin: Language Science Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Dorian, Nancy C.
    (2010) Investigating variation: The effects of social organization and social setting. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385939.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385939.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  16. Drager, Katie , & Hay, Jennifer
    (2012) Exploiting random intercepts: Two case studies in sociophonetics. Language Variation and Change, 24(1), 59–78. 10.1017/S0954394512000014
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394512000014 [Google Scholar]
  17. Du Bois, John W. , Schuetze-Coburn, Stephan , Cumming, Susanna , & Paolino, Danae
    (1993) Outline of discourse transcription. In Jane Edwards & Martin Lampert (Eds.), Talking data: Transcription and coding in discourse (pp.45–89). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Epps, Patience
    (2018) Contrasting linguistic ecologies: Indigenous and colonially mediated language contact in northwest Amazonia. Language and Communication, 62, 156–169. 10.1016/j.langcom.2018.04.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2018.04.010 [Google Scholar]
  19. Evans, Nicholas
    (2012) Even more diverse than we had thought: The multiplicity of Trans-Fly languages. Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication No. 5, 109–149.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. (2015a) Restricted phonemes and interaction in Nen. Workshop on the Languages of Melanesia, Kioloa Australia.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. (2015b) Inflection in Nen. In Matthew Baerman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of inflection (pp.543–575). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. (2015c) Valency in Nen. In Andrej Malchukov & Bernard Comrie (Eds.), Valency classes in the world’s languages: Case studies from New Guinea, Australia, and the Americas, and theoretical outlook (pp.1069–1116). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. (2017a) Did language evolve in multilingual settings?Biology and Philosophy, 32(6), 905–933. 10.1007/s10539‑018‑9609‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10539-018-9609-3 [Google Scholar]
  24. (2017b) Quantification in Nen. In Denis Paperno & Edward Keenan (Eds.), Handbook of quantifiers in natural language, volume 2 (pp.571–607). New York, NY: Springer. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑44330‑0_11
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-44330-0_11 [Google Scholar]
  25. (2018) The dynamics of language diversity. In Rajend Mesthrie & David Bradley (Eds.), Plenary and focus lectures from the 20th International Congress of Linguists (pp.11–41). Cape Town, South Africa: UCT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Evans, Nicholas , Arka, Wayan I. , Carroll, Matthew J. , Choi, Yun Jung , Döhler, Christian , Gast, Volker , Kashima, Eri , Mittag, Emile , Olsson, Bruno , Quinn, Kyla , Schokkin, Dineke , Tama, Phillip , van Tongeren, Charlotte , & Siegel, Jeff
    (2018) The languages of southern New Guinea. In Bill Palmer (Ed.), The languages and linguistics of New Guinea: A comprehensive guide (pp.640–774). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Evans, Nicholas , Carroll, Matthew J. , & Döhler, Christian
    (2017) Proto-Yam phonology languages of Southern New Guinea. InThe Languages of Melanesia Workshop. Manokwari, Indonesia.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. François, Alexandre
    (2011) Social ecology and language history in the northern Vanuatu linkage: A tale of divergence and convergence. Journal of Historical Linguistics, 1(2), 175–246. 10.1075/jhl.1.2.03fra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jhl.1.2.03fra [Google Scholar]
  29. (2012) The dynamics of linguistic diversity: Egalitarian multilingualism and power imbalance among northern Vanuatu languages. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 214, 85–110.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Haudricourt, André G.
    (1961) Richesse en phonémes et richesse en locuteurs [Number of phonemes and number of speakers]. L’Homme, 1, 5–10.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Hildebrandt, Kristine A. , Jany, Carmen , & Silva, Wilson
    (Eds.) (2017) Documenting variation in endangered languages. Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication, 13, 1–5.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Hitchcock, Garrick
    (2010) Mound-and-ditch taro gardens of the Bensbach or Torassi River area, southwest Papua New Guinea. The Artefact, 33, 70–90.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Kashima, Eri
    . (in press). The phonetics of Nmbo (Nɐmbo) with some comments on its phonology (Yam Family; Morehead District). Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. (2020) Language in my mouth: Linguistic variation in the Nmbo speech community of Southern New Guinea. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Australian National University.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Kashima, Eri , Williams, Daniel , Ellison, T. Mark , Schokkin, Dineke , & Escudero, Paola
    (2016) Uncovering the acoustic vowel space of a previously undescribed language: The vowels of Nambo. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 139(6). doi:  10.1121/1.4954395
    https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4954395 [Google Scholar]
  36. Katz, Jonah
    (2016) Lenition, perception and neutralisation. Phonology, 33(1), 43–85. 10.1017/S0952675716000038
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0952675716000038 [Google Scholar]
  37. Labov, William
    (1965) On the mechanisms of linguistic change. Georgetown Monographs on Language and Linguistics, 18, 91–114.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. (1972) The social motivations of sound change. InSociolinguistic patterns (pp.1–42). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. (2007) Transmission and diffusion. Language, 83(2), 344–387. 10.1353/lan.2007.0082
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2007.0082 [Google Scholar]
  40. Lüpke, Friederike
    (2016) Uncovering small-scale multilingualism. Critical Multilingualism Studies, 4(2), 35–74.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. (2018) Multiple choice: Language use and cultural practice in rural Casamance between convergence and divergence. In Jacqueline Knörr & Wilson Trajano Filho (Eds.), Creolization and pidginisation in contexts of post-colonial diversity: Language, culture, and identity (pp.181–208). Leiden: Brill. 10.1163/9789004363397_011
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004363397_011 [Google Scholar]
  42. Mansfield, John B.
    (2015) Consonant lenition as a sociophonetic variable in Murrinh Patha (Australia). Language Variation and Change, 27(2), 203–225. 10.1017/S0954394515000046
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394515000046 [Google Scholar]
  43. MPI
    MPI (2018) ELAN (Version 5.2). The Language Archive. Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Meyerhoff, Miriam
    (1999) Sorry in the Pacific: Defining communities, defining practice. Language and Society, 28(2), 225–238. 10.1017/S0047404599002055
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404599002055 [Google Scholar]
  45. Meyerhoff, Miriam , & Walker, James A.
    (2007) The persistence of variation in individual grammars: Copula absence in ‘urban sojourners’ and their stay-at-home peers, Bequia (St Vincent and the Grenadines). Journal of Sociolinguistics, 11(3), 346–366. 10.1111/j.1467‑9841.2007.00327.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2007.00327.x [Google Scholar]
  46. Meyerhoff, Miriam
    (2017) Writing a linguistic symphony: Analyzing variation while doing language documentation. Canadian Journal of Linguistics/Revue canadienne de linguistique, 62(4), 525–549. 10.1017/cnj.2017.28
    https://doi.org/10.1017/cnj.2017.28 [Google Scholar]
  47. Mufwene, Salikoko S.
    (2001) The Ecology of language evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511612862
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511612862 [Google Scholar]
  48. Nordberg, Bengt , & Sundgren, Eva
    (1998) On observing real-time language change: A Swedish case study. Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Pope, Jennifer , Meyerhoff, Miriam , & Ladd, Robert
    (2007) Forty years of language change on Martha’s Vineyard. Language, 83(3), 615–627. 10.1353/lan.2007.0117
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2007.0117 [Google Scholar]
  50. Potowski, Paul
    (2013) Language maintenance and shift. In Robert Bayley , Richard Cameron , & Ceil Lucas (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of sociolinguistics (pp.321–339). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Romero, Sergio
    (2009) Phonological markedness, regional identity, and sex in Mayan: The fricativization of intervocalic /l/ in K’iche’. In James N. Stanford & Dennis R. Preston (Eds.), Variation in indigenous minority languages (pp.281–297). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/impact.25.14rom
    https://doi.org/10.1075/impact.25.14rom [Google Scholar]
  52. Ross, Malcolm
    (2005) Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages. In Andrew Pawley , Robert Attenborough , Jack Golson , & Robert Hide (Eds.), Papuan pasts: Cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking people (pp.15–66). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. R Team
    R Team (2017) R: A language and environment for statistical computing . R foundation for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria. Retrieved fromhttps://www.r-project.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Rueck, Michael J.
    (2011) Social network analysis applied to language planning in the Morehead District, Papua New Guinea (Electronic Survey Report 2011, 37). Dallas, TX: SIL International.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Salisbury, Richard F.
    (1962) Notes on bilingualism and linguistic change in New Guinea. Anthropological Linguistics, 4(7), 1–13.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Sankoff, Gillian
    (2001) Linguistic outcomes of contact. In Peter Trudgill , Jack K. Chambers , & N. Schilling-Estes (Eds.), Handbook of sociolinguistics (pp.638–668). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. (1980) Multilingualism in Papua New Guinea. InThe social life of language (pp.95–132). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. 10.9783/9781512809589‑008
    https://doi.org/10.9783/9781512809589-008 [Google Scholar]
  58. Satyanath, Shobha
    (2018) Language variation and change in a small but diverse city in India. In Dick Smakman & Patrick Heinrich (Eds.), Urban sociolinguistics: The city as a linguistic process and experience (95–112). London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Siegel, Jeff
    (2014) The morphology of tense and aspect in Nama, a Papuan language of southern New Guinea. Open Linguistics, 1(1), 211–231.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. (2017) Transitive and intransitive verbs in Nama, a Papuan language of Southern New Guinea. Oceanic Linguistics, 56(1), 123–142. 10.1353/ol.2017.0005
    https://doi.org/10.1353/ol.2017.0005 [Google Scholar]
  61. Singer, Ruth
    (2018) A small speech community with many small languages: The role of receptive multilingualism in supporting linguistic diversity at Warruwi Community (Australia). Language and Communication, 62, 102–118. 10.1016/j.langcom.2018.05.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2018.05.002 [Google Scholar]
  62. Stasch, Rupert
    (2009) Society of others: Kinship and mourning in a West Papuan place. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 10.1525/9780520943322
    https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520943322 [Google Scholar]
  63. Stanford, James N.
    (2009a) Clan as a sociolinguistic variable: Three approaches to Sui clans. In James N. Stanford & Dennis R. Preston (Eds.), Variation in indigenous minority languages (pp.463–484). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/impact.25.23sta
    https://doi.org/10.1075/impact.25.23sta [Google Scholar]
  64. (2009b) “Eating the food of our place”: Sociolinguistic loyalties in multidialectal Sui villages. Language in Society, 38(3), 287–309. 10.1017/S0047404509090502
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404509090502 [Google Scholar]
  65. Stanford, James N. , & Yanhong Pan
    (2013) The sociolinguistics of exogamy: Dialect acquisition in a Zhuang village. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 17(5), 573–607. 10.1111/josl.12052
    https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12052 [Google Scholar]
  66. Suokhrie, Kelhouvinuo
    (2016) Clans and clanlectal contact: Variation and change in Angami. Asia-Pacific Language Variation, 2(2), 188–214. 10.1075/aplv.2.2.04suo
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aplv.2.2.04suo [Google Scholar]
  67. Thije, Jan D. ten , & Zeevaert, Ludgar
    (2007) Receptive multilingualism:Linguistic analyses, language policies and didactic concepts. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/hsm.6
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hsm.6 [Google Scholar]
  68. Torres Cacoullos, Rena , & Travis, Catherine E.
    (2018) Bilingualism in the community: Code-switching and grammars in contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781108235259
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108235259 [Google Scholar]
  69. Tucker, Sara , Boevé, Marco , Fuller, Elizabeth , Gustafsson, Catharina , & Rueck, Michael
    (2003) Nambu Subfamily survey report (Tech. Rep.). Ukarumpa: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  70. Vaughan, Jill , & Singer, Ruth
    (2018) Indigenous multilingualisms past and present. Language and Communication, 62, 83–90. 10.1016/j.langcom.2018.06.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2018.06.003 [Google Scholar]
  71. Williams, Francis E.
    (1936) Papuans of the Trans-Fly. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  72. Wurm, Stephen A. , & Hattori, Shirō
    (1981) Language atlas of the Pacific area, Part 1 and 2. Pacific Linguistics, Series C, 66 and 67. Canberra, Australia: ANU.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error