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Dr. Robert Blust SEALS Talk: “Two Birds with One Stone: The Aerodynamic Voicing Constraint and the Languages of Borneo”

Dr. Blust will present as a keynote speaker on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society (SEALS), at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

About the Talk

A hallmark of any good scientific theory is its ability to derive two or more superficially unconnected phenomena from a single unifying principle. A classic example is Newton’s gravitation theory, in which Galileo’s laws of motion for objects falling on the earth and Kepler’s laws of motion for the planets orbiting the sun — both of which had previously been recognized as valid but unconnected statements about physical processes — were shown to reflect the same fundamental force (gravity). This talk draws attention to the identity of a basic phonological process that has taken divergent paths in the history of particular languages or language groups. In particular, it is argued that the historical development of true voiced aspirates [bph], [dth], [gkh] in the Kelabit-Lun Dayeh languages of Borneo, and the replacement of word-final voiced stops by the homorganic nasals in a number of languages in Borneo are outcomes of the same phonetic limitation, namely the aerodynamic voicing constraint (AVC).

About the Speaker

Dr. Robert Blust receiving lifetime achievement in research awardDr. Robert Blust is a professor in the UH Manoa Department of Linguistics. His interests include historical linguistics and Austronesian linguistics and culture history, among others. He received a BA in Anthropology and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Hawaii. He has field experience on 97 Austronesian languages in Sarawak, Papua New Guinea, and Taiwan.