In Word-prosodic systems of Raja Ampat languages, Bert Remijsen presents a collection of studies on word-prosodic features of Ma’ya and Matbat, two Austronesian languages of the Raja Ampat archipelago, off the west coast of New Guinea. Interesting phenomena include the discovery of a five-toneme contrast in Matbat, and the diachronic development of a tonal realization in Ma’ya, on the basis of acoustic data from three dialects.
The most important finding, however, is that Ma’ya features both lexical tone and contrastive lexical stress, as independent features in its word-prosodic system. This makes it the first language for which this combination of word-prosodic features is supported with phonetic evidence. The other chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of the word-prosodic systems of Ma’ya and Matbat, shed light on the question how this unusually complex word-prosodic system came into being.
Hardly any research has previously been carried out on the languages of the Raja Ampat archipelago. As a consequence, the chapter on the language situation of these islands constitutes a timely overview of a number of languages that are located on the border between the Austronesian language family and the Papuan languages. Appendices present more background on the languages and on the population of the Raja Ampat archipelago.
Presenting exciting new data, this book will appeal to phoneticians and phonologists who are interested in word-prosodic features. The book is also of interest to students of Austronesian linguistics, because it surveys a number of little-known Austronesian languages, and deals with the issue of their position within the Austronesian language family.