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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ixpantepec Nieves Mixtec Word Prosody

  • Author(s): Carroll, Lucien Serapio
  • Advisor(s): Bakovic, Eric
  • Caballero, Gabriela
  • et al.

This dissertation presents a phonological description and acoustic analysis of the word prosody of Ixpantepec Nieves Mixtec, which involves both a complex tone system and a default stress system. The analysis of Nieves Mixtec word prosody is complicated by a close association between morphological structure and prosodic structure, and by the interactions between word prosody and phonation type, which has both contrastive and non-contrastive roles in the phonology. I contextualize these systems within the phonology of Nieves Mixtec as a whole, within the literature on other Mixtec varieties, and within the literature on cross-linguistic prosodic typology.

The literature on prosodic typology indicates that stress is necessarily defined abstractly, as structured prominence realized differently in each language. Descriptions of stress in other Mixtec varieties widely report default stress on the initial syllable of the canonical bimoraic root, though some descriptions suggest final stress or mobile stress. I first present phonological evidence—from distributional restrictions, phonological processes, and loanword adaptation—that Nieves Mixtec word prosody does involve a stress system, based on trochaic feet aligned to the root. I then present an acoustic study comparing stressed syllables to unstressed syllables, for ten potential acoustic correlates of stress. The results indicate that the acoustic correlates of stress in Nieves Mixtec include segmental duration, intensity and periodicity.

Building on analyses of other Mixtec tone systems, I show that the distribution of tone and the tone processes in Nieves Mixtec support an analysis in which morae may bear H, M or L tone, where M tone is underlyingly unspecified, and each morpheme may sponsor a final +H or +L floating tone. Bimoraic roots thus host up to two linked tones and one floating tone, while monomoraic clitics host just one linked tone and one floating tone, and tonal morphemes are limited to a single floating tone. I then present three studies describing the acoustic realization of tone and comparing the realization of tone in different prosodic types. The findings of these studies include a strong directional asymmetry in tonal coarticulation, increased duration at the word or phrase boundary, phonation differences among the tone categories, and F0 differences between the glottalization categories.

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