Historical linguists are familiar with the concept of doubleting, which comes in two causally distinct types. In the first type, here called “contact-induced doubleting,” borrowing from a related language or dialect gives rise to lexical pairs like English shirt : skirt or wine : vine. In the second type, called “system-internal doubleting,” traces of earlier morphology that have become synchronically opaque distinguish lexical pairs like English grass : graze, glass : glaze, weave : weft, or earlier stress contrasts produce lexical pairs like English one : an. In most cases, the result is a set of two phonologically and semantically similar forms that have the same etymology, but differ in meaning. Austronesian languages contain numerous examples of both contact-induced and system-internal doubleting. The former type closely resembles the phenomenon in other language families, but the latter is strikingly different, as it involves “word-families” with two, three, four, or in some cases more than four variants, nearly all of which appear to be semantically identical. How these variants arose remains a major theoretical challenge.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 399-457
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.