Laryngeal co-occurrence restrictions as constraints on sub-segmental articulatory structure

Project Summary:

Kaqchikel is a K’ichean-branch Mayan language spoken in southern Guatemala. Like all Mayan languages, Kaqchikel has a phonemic contrast between plain voiceless stops (/p t k q/) and ‘glottalized’ stops at corresponding places of articulation (implosive /ɓ/ and ejective /tʔ tsʔ tʃʔ kʔ qʔ/). As in other Mayan languages, stops in underived /CVC/ roots are subject to a long-distance co-occurrence restriction: multiple ejectives are not allowed in a /CVC/ root, unless they are identical (Edmonson 1988:60-72). The labial implosive /ɓ/ and glottal stop /ʔ/ are exempt from this restriction, and freely combine with ejectives at any place of articulation in /CVC/ roots. Gallagher (2010) proposes that this type of root-based morpheme structure constraint (MSC) is grounded in considerations of acoustic similarity. In Gallagher’s system, stops are classified according to acoustic features which reflect their surface phonetic properties. This study aims to assess the predictions of Gallagher (2010) by directly examining the phonetics of stop consonants in Kaqchikel. Focusing on the three phonetic features most pertinent to the acoustic theory of root MSCs (burst intensity, creak, and burst duration), we find that the surface phonetic patterning of the Kaqchikel stop series consistently fails to reflect their phonological classhood. With respect to root-level laryngeal co-occurrence restrictions in Mayan, phonetic realism is too strict as the phonotactic classes do not line up with acoustic classes in Kaqchikel (and probably other Mayan languages). An alternative formal analysis was proposed by having OCP constraints stated over abstract (but articulatorily-grounded) features in sub-segmental structure.

Read more from:

Ryan Bennett, Kevin Tang & Juan Ajsivinac. In prep. Against phonetic realism as the source of root co-occurrence restrictions
Ryan Bennett & Kevin Tang. October, 2016. Against phonetic realism as the source of root co-occurrence restrictions. Annual Meeting on Phonology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA. [abstract] [slides]




Formal Analysis