Markedness in Kaytetye Reduplication: An information-theoretic analysis

Forrest Panther, Mark Harvey

Friday, December 16th, 2022, 10.45am – 11.15am


Kaytetye is an Arandic language spoken in Central Australia. Kaytetye has a partial reduplication pattern, in which the reduplicant is a disyllable. Surprisingly, the reduplicant in this form is required to be vowel-initial, and consonant-initial forms are ungrammatical. We show through quantitative analysis of the Kaytetye lexicon that the form of the reduplicant results from the distribution of information: vowel-initial forms are less informationally complex than consonant-initial forms, and an informational ‘floor’ effect constrains the minimal size. These results support an analysis of markedness that it results from information optimization within a language, not from universal patterns of markedness.