Nyikina paradigms and refunctionalization
A cautionary tale in morphological reconstruction
Here I present a case study of change in the complex verb morphology of the Nyikina language of Northwestern Australia. I describe changes which lead to reanalysis of underlying forms while preserving much of the inherited phonological material. The changes presented here do not fit into previous typologies of morphological change. Nyikina lost the distinction between past and present, and in doing so, merged two paradigms into one. The former past tense marker came to be associated with intransitive verb stems. The inflected verbs thus continue inherited material, but in a different function. These changes are most parsimoniously described in a theory of word formation which makes reference to paradigms.