Challenging Sonority - Cross-linguistic Evidence - Martin J. Ball

Challenging Sonority - Cross-linguistic Evidence - Martin J. Ball

Parsing Salish Consonant Clusters

Challenging Sonority - Cross-linguistic Evidence - Martin J. Ball

Sonya Bird [+-]
University of Victoria
Sonya Bird is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Her research focuses on the phonetics of Salish and Dene languages of British Columbia, most recently the SENĆOŦEN dialect of North Straits Salish. Her work is primarily on the phonetic realization of articulatorily complex sounds and sequences of sounds, and on how this realization varies across speakers and languages. She has also recently expanded the scope of her work to second language acquisition of pronunciation in the context of language revitalization.
Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins [+-]
University of Victoria
Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins (Linguistics, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) has been a scholar of Salishan phonology and mor- phology for about 30 years, and has worked on both the Nxaʔamxčín and SENĆOŦEN Salish languages. Together with the late M. Dale Kinkade, she co-edited Salish languages and linguistics (1998). Her current research includes projects on phonological structure in Nxaʔamxčín and completion (with Colville Tribes’ Nxaʔamxčín Language Program) of an online database and related print dictionary of Nxaʔamxčín legacy materials recorded in the 1960s and ’70s by Dale Kinkade.

Description

Salish languages are characterized by highly complex sound systems, with large consonantal inventories as well as long and complex consonant clusters (Czaykowska-Higgins & Kinkade 1998), as in for example the Nxaʔamxcín word snkɬxwpáw’stn ‘clothesline’ (Czaykowska-Higgins & Willett 1997). The details of how these long clusters are syllabified are complex, and various analyses of them have been proposed (Bagemihl, 1991; Czaykowska-Higgins & Willett, 1997; Shaw, 2008; Urbanczyk, 1996). One relatively consistent finding across Salish languages is that, stem-initially, obstruent-obstruent (OO) clusters are allowed but obstruent-resonant (OR) clusters are not, which seems to contradict predictions made by the Sonority Sequencing Principle. While the syllabification of consonant clusters in Salish languages has generated much scholarly work over the past 25 years, it has primarily been in the area of phonology, with almost no instrumental analysis of the pronunciation of these clusters, and therefore no indication of what that instrumental analysis might tell us about syllabification. The goal of this paper is therefore to provide the first systematic phonetic study of Salish consonant clusters, and to answer two questions: what transitional elements exist within consonant clusters, and what do these transitional elements tell us about how clusters are syllabified? For example, is it really the case that OO clusters are allowed, but OR clusters are not? As a starting point, we will consider clusters in Nxaʔamxcín (Interior Salish), extracted from a 30 minute long text recorded with a fluent elder in 1991. Auditory and acoustic analysis will be conducted on these clusters, with particular focus on OO clusters in different morphological domains, and on the transitional elements which may or may not occur within them (voiced and voiceless schwas; consonantal releases). By taking a phonetic approach to syllabification in Salish languages, we will be able to 1) evaluate whether (and how well) the Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP) and sonority hierarchy hold up for Salish syllable structure, and 2) compare accounts of Salish syllable structure based on the SSP with accounts based more directly on phonetic factors, such as perceptual recoverability (Henke, Kaisse & Wright 2012).

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Citation

Bird, Sonya; Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, Ewa. Parsing Salish Consonant Clusters. Challenging Sonority - Cross-linguistic Evidence. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 159-199 Oct 2016. ISBN 9781781792278. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=25677. Date accessed: 19 Jul 2018 doi: 10.1558/equinox.25677. Oct 2016

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