Kelabit, an Austronesian language spoken in northern Sarawak, has a typologically rare series of true voice aspirates. Contrary to claims in the general phonetics literature, these segments cannot be analyzed as consonant clusters. In earlier publications such as Blust (1969, 1974a,b), the origin of the Kelabit voiced aspirates was attributed to ancestral clusters of voiced obstruent + sibilant that arose from syncope in the reflexes of PAN *bVS, *dVS, *jVS, *zVS, and *gVS. This hypothesis required the expansion of a number of Proto-Austronesian reconstructions through the addition of a vowel after *S, or the addition of a syllable with *S, as in PAN *tebuSu > Proto-North Sarawak *təbSu > Kelabit təbhuh (for earlier PAN *tebuS) 'sugarcane', *qapejuSu > Proto-North Sarawak *pədSu > Kelabit pədhuh (for earlier PAN *qapeju) 'gall (bladder)', or PMP *ijuSuŋ > Proto-North Sarawak *idSuŋ > Kelabit idhuŋ (for earlier *ijuŋ) 'nose'. Problems with this analysis were pointed out by other scholars, but the alternatives that they proposed were not entirely satisfactory. Some aspects of these alternative proposals, together with additional observations, have now led to a new analysis, in which Kelabit bh, dh, gh, and the historically related segments in other North Sarawak languages are derived from earlier voiced geminates.


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pp. 311-338
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