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The origins of isolating word structure in eastern Timor

Abstract : This paper addresses the issue of isolating word structure and its origins in the Austronesian and Papuan languages of eastern Timor. McWhorter (2007) claims that both families of languages evidence extensive loss of grammatical complexity as a result of "interrupted transmission" due to significant non-native acquisition. I refute McWhorter's assertion that the eastern Timor languages are not "normal" through a detailed exposition of their morphological complexities. Whilst recognising that they are isolating leaning, I argue that there is nothing "unnatural" about the grammars of these languages and that phonological changes within the Timorese Sprachbund provide sufficient explanation of their morphological profiles.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02935746
Contributor : Antoinette Schapper <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 4:08:59 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 3:35:34 AM
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Antoinette Schapper. The origins of isolating word structure in eastern Timor. Austronesian Undressed: How and Why Languages Become Isolating, 2020. ⟨halshs-02935746⟩

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