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By Merlan, Francesca C.

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Additional info for A Grammar of Wardaman: A Language of the Northern Territory of Australia

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Phonemes and their realization A practical orthography is used throughout this description. So far as I know, Wardaman has not been written and no other practical spelling system has ever been devised for it. The phonemes of Wardaman are displayed in Table 1. Table 1. Phonemes of Wardaman Bilabial ApicoAlveolar ApicoDomal LaminoPalatal Velar Stops b d rd J g Nasals m n rn ny ng Laterals 1 rl iy Rhotics IT r w Semivowels Vowels i e u ο a For each stop, there is a corresponding nasal. There are five stop-nasal series (as in neighbouring Mangarrayi, Merlan 1982; and Wardaman's congeners Yangman and Dagoman, but unlike Wakiman to the north which, as noted in Chapter 1, has only four points of articulation, and lacks the distinction between apico-alveolar and apico-domal series, Cook 1987: 24).

Since there is no other compelling evidence for a contrast between /yi/ and /i/ morpheme-initially, nor, indeed, any independent evidence for vowel-initial morphemes (save one α-initial one) in the language, this can apparently be treated as a specialization in the noun class morphemes. The vowel /i/ is realized as a high, front, maximally tense [/] in open syllables, and particularly before the palatal segments /j/, /ny/, /ly/, both semivowels, and also the rhotic /rr/, as in the following examples (in some, more than one condition is met): [ 'warrija ] 'alligator' [ 'lidi ] 'long-horned grasshopper' [li'warrga ] 'ground sugar bag' [ 'girrgilang ] 'galah' f 'ginyang ] catfish species [ 'ginydan ] 'stone spear point' In the last form above, the high and tense vowel quality is the main auditory cue signalling the palatal articulation of the following nasal, which before the stop normally evidences no palatal off-glide.

In particular, I came regularly to the New Homes to work with Elsie Raymond (Nonomarran), who overall has been a principal informant for my research, and some of her relatives, including her own mother Maggie Sing (Birriwalngali, who has since passed away), Maggie's husband Tarpot Ngamunugarri, Elsie's close "second" mother Ruby Allison (Gomnyang) who passed away in 1991, and the latter's husband, also deceased. Other main informants during this early period were two old men, both of whom have since passed away, who variously lived at Manbulloo Station and at the "High Level" town camp on the northern fringe of Katherine.

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