Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Stephen A. Marlett


This thesis is a description of the phonology of Imyan Tehit, a West Papuan language of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, couched in the framework of templatic syllable theory espoused by Junko Itô. It is based on 18 months (1989-1991) of linguistic fieldwork, in which the author and his family lived among the Tehit of Haha village, learning their language and culture.

Imyan Tehit has a maximal syllable template [CCVVC], obligatory onsets except word-initially, and a rare liquid coda. Syllable onset, nucleus, and coda are shown to be equally autonomous sub-syllabic structures. If they are complex or branching, they attract syllable stress.

Word-final consonant clusters in Imyan Tehit call for a significant extension of extraprosodic licensing from one segment, the theoretical limit, to two, covering the entire domain of coda. Other consonant clusters, usually found root or word-initially, are broken up by non-phonemic schwa, argued to be the result of epenthesis during lexical syllabification rather than phonotactic excrescence.

Glides are shown to be the non-nuclear allophones of the ambiguous high vowels, unequivocally determined by the syllable structure conditions and universal principles. One of these is the principle of Maximality, which maximizes the domain of prosodic licensing at the expense of extraprosodic licensing.

Monomorphemic nasal-stop sequences are argued to be tautosyllabic prenasalized stops based on the principle of Locality, their unique distribution, and patterning as a single segment with respect to stress. Alveolar prenasalized stops are excluded word-initially because of possible interference in the semantic function of the word- initial nasal agreement morphemes. Similarly, the glides and bilabial nasal are excluded from root-final position because they are reserved for suffix morphology.

The multifaceted back stop is shown to consist of four allophones, although most youths reduce these to three. A number of optional phonological processes operating on consonants involve the presence of the high front vowel, including spirantization, affrication, and anticipatory [y] epenthesis The vowe1 allophones are dependent both on syllable structure and segmental environment, and are derived by the processes of laxing, raising, or assimilation.

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