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TitleCHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 HISTORY The Huli people live in the central mountains of the ...
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The Huli people live in the central mountains of the Papua

New Guinea mainland, at a latitude of 6 below the equator and

at a mean altitude of about 1500 metres above sea level. They

number over 65,000 (Kloss & McConnel 1981), grouped in clans

(hamigini) and subclans (hamigini emene) throughout the area

shown in the map on page 2.

Some of their origin myths speak of ancestral kinship ties

with neighbouring language groups, while genealogies and oral

traditions suggest that there has been some migratory movement

within the area they regard as their own. They have probably

been living in this area for 600 to 1000 years (Blong 1979),

or possibly even longer, given that the Highlands of Papua New

Guinea have been inhabited for at least 2,500 years (White &

0'ConneH1982: 176).

The present-fday inhabitants of the land employ a system of

shifting cultivation whereby virgin bush is cleared and the

ground tilled as need arises, leaving old worn-out tracts of

land to recuperate through natural re-?afforestation. The sec-?

ondary forests that then appear become available for clearing

and recultivation within the space of two to four generations,

although in the higher and less fertile regions the forests

tend to degrade into grasslands rather than to return to their

original state.

The restricted population movements induced by this cyclic

pattern of agriculture are largely responsible for the fact


Page 2


FiRure 1;

Map of Hull



Hull locus

*l~ mountain
"t* peak


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3.3.3 [ _C ] occurs in word-medial position. It is produced

by lowering the tongue body and flapping the a-

pex of the tongue up to the alveolar ridge and back again.

E x a m p l e s :
t'h'u.Cu] r o d e n t ['fia.c.iga] t r a c k

[paXD] ( I ) h i t [kaX€£e] s q u a b b l e


3 . 3 . 4 l-L] i s t h e l a b i a l i z e d c o u n t e r p a r t of [£] , o c c u r r i n g

in word -med ia l p o s i t i o n . I t i s common in t h e

bound morpheme [L a] (cf 5 . 2 . 6 ) Examples :

[•hu£wa] s k i r t [tiDi^a] r a f t e r

[kanoXwa] d r a i n [IaX.wa] say-3-PRES

[ i b a l w a ] come-3-PRES

3 . 4 NASALS

Huli nasals are specified as a class by the features

[+cons, -syll, + son, +nasal] . The series is given below in

table 6, showing the feature specifications that distinguish

the segments.




















Table 6: Specification of nasals

3.4.1 [m] occurs initially and medially in words. The bi-

labial occlusion is formed with the lips forward

from the teeth. The velum is raised slightly after the relea-


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se of the occlusion, so that segments following [m] are "usual-

ly conditionally nasalized. The co-occurrence of this segment

with [b] is described in and Examples:

[man£] wasp [manga] laziness

[Cmene.] little [t ims] food

3.4.2 [n] is articulated by raising the tongue and forming

an occlusion in the dental-alveolar region. This

segment occurs initially and medially, its co-occurrence with

[d] having been noted in and Examples:

[nano] fungus [p ini] root

[n&:] tooth [puni] liver

3.4.3 [p] occurs in word-medial position. It has been no-

ted as forming a complex phone with [j] (cf 3.2.

4 ) . It is present in dialects Al and A2 as a simple phone in

lexis which, in other dialects, manifest the complex phone

D^j]. Segments following [n] are always conditionally nasal-

ized. Examples:

[£m*ne.] little [fiajio] woodcock

[lamipaz] let's talk [pulumajpje] let's do (it)

3.4.4 [n] occurs only preceding segments that are specif-

ied as [+cons, -syll, -son, -cont, +high,

+voice]. Examples have been given in and


There are two segments within the class glides, specified

as [-cons, -syll, +son, -nasal, +cont] . These are [y] and

[w] , distinguished by the former's being [-back, -round] and

the latter's being [+back,+round]. Both segments are [+high],


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which says that the suffix vowel takes on a value for [high]

that is the opposite of the stem-final vowel's specification

for that feature, thus:



> [-«ihigh] / X [<*high] ##

4. 4.3.9 This is one of those interesting examples in Huli

where vowel height, the salient feature in the vowel harmony

system, seems to be semantically rather than phonologically

motivated, the resulting form signalling modulation. Other

instances where harmony or lack ofH-is significant are indicat-

ed by the examples,




+ le

+ li

+ lo

= bule
that he may do it

= buli
lest he do it

= bilo
let him do it The second example is the exceptional one, conf-

orming to harmony rules across a morpheme boundary. While the

first and third examples show positive modal concord - affirm-

ing a possible action - the second signals negative modality. of the rules outlined in the last two sectors it

it needs to be said that although they are restricted in scope

they are of frequent occurrence. As part of the general des-

cription of Huli vowel harmony, they illustrate that vowels

tend to assimilate, progressively and also regressively, to

height: mid and high vowels cannot occur in consecutive syll-

ables in unbound morphemes.

4.4-3.11 This concludes the section on vowel harmony, and


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also the chapter on prosody. The next chapter will begin a new

section, describing verbs, with particular attention being

given to verb morphology.


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