Surface contrast without phonemic contrast: theoretical and practical implications Stephen A. Marlett SIL and UND
Basic Data An important phonetic rule in the Seri language (Sonora, Mexico): A consonant (C) lengthens in the context: V__
cama ‘manta bruja’ cola ‘arriba’ cosi ‘thorn’ cmique ‘Seri person’ haso ‘net’ hita ‘my mother’ ina ‘its feather, fur’ itáho ‘did s/he see it?’ haaho ‘road’ coil ‘blue/green’ yaoto ‘base of neck’ paaza ‘escorpión’ tooha ‘did s/he cry?’ xeele ‘fog’ zaaxa ‘grulla gris’ The stressed vowel may be a short vowel, a long vowel, or a sequence of two short vowels.
Basic Data In addition: A vowel (V) lengthens in the context: V C __
cacat ‘bitter’ hesen ‘dry ironwood’ quisil ‘small’ intámoz ‘¿pensaste?’ xapij ‘reed’ mitoj ‘your eyes’ zazan ‘grackle’ caacoj ‘big’ cootaj ‘ant’ heexoj ‘torch’ caipot ‘ one who pays ’ coosot ‘narrow’ hoinaj ‘wave (n.)’ teepol ‘jackrabbit’ xeenoj ‘hummingbird’ The stressed vowel may be a short vowel, a long vowel, or a sequence of two short vowels.
The degree of lengthening depends on the degree of stress. When the stress is reduced, as in some clauses or phrases, the lengthening is less. When the stress is omitted, as under certain conditions, lengthening does not happen. a. haso (primary accent on haso) ‘net’ [ ] b. haso caacoj (secondary accent on haso) ‘net large’ [ ] c. xaa siifp ca teete... (omitted accent on teete) ‘s/he will arrive s/he said soon’ [ t ]
Hant com iti cöiihca ac, hiz cötahca hax tama, xica ccam com toc cotom, hant com iti toom, toc comom. Ox tpacta toc cöiihca iti, xazoj tintica hant z itaao, toc conticaha. Ziix quih ccam taax o ipocaaho, hoox xah zo haiiha. Toc contiha iti, zaaj pac toc cötahcama, cötafpma hapxa pac ano toii, toc cöcoiiha. Zo toc cotomma, itiipjc hant iqui itasnanma, toc cotom, yoque. Xazoj cop ox tee, yoque: —¡Ctam hipcom islicot ac hax xomasol o!— ox itai, yoque.
The degree of lengthening also depends on the length of the stressed vowel a bit longer when the stressed nucleus is monomoraic (V) hapéxem ‘one who is feared’ a bit less long when the stressed nucleus is bimoraic (VV) hapéexem ‘one who is respected’ not noticeably long when the stressed nucleus is trimoraic (VVV) quéeexam ‘those who groan’
The lengthening of a word-final consonant is clearly heard in contexts such as the following: hap =iha‘it is a mule deer’ cof =iha‘it is a San Juanico tree’ hocö =iha‘it is pine / sawn lumber’ hiif =iha‘it is my nose’ caajö =iha‘it is a seep willow’ coos =iha‘s/he is singing’ coil =iha‘it is blue/green’
Even in front of another consonant, a consonant is “stronger” in some way, and when there is a strong accent, it clearly lengthens. caahca ‘to be located caiscan ‘hard’ catxo ‘much, many’ cocázni ‘rattlesnake’ hast ‘stone, mountain’ issanj aha ‘s/he will carry her/him on his/her shoulder’
This “strong” consonant is even more clearly heard as long in a special context, with an “infix”... caiscan cais can a ‘hard, ¡ha!’ catxocat xo ‘many, ¡ha!’ hasthas t a ‘stone, ¡ha!’
The rule does not apply to certain loanwords from Spanish and Uto-Aztecan languages, such as: hooro ‘gold’ < oro paar ‘priest’ < padre moora ‘mule’ < mula masáana ‘demijohn style bottle’ < damajuana pazáato ‘shoe’ < zapato saráapi ‘blanket’ < sarape tóotar ‘chicken’ < tótori but to others, it does: caamiz ‘shirt’, capásiro ‘stroll’, capota ‘jacket’, trooqui ‘car’.
The rule also does not apply to consonants and vowels that are part of a suffix: Plural suffix on nouns coo-taj ‘guitarfish (pl.)’ xajíi-taj ‘burrows’ xaláa-taj ‘cactus wrens’ xapóo-taj ‘porpoises’
Plural or repetitive suffixes on a verb i-t-áa-tim ‘s/he held him/her/it (rep.)’ i-t-íi-tim ‘s/he heard him/her/it (rep.)’ i-t-cáa-tam ‘they looked for him/her/it (rep.)’ iqui t-afáa-xam ‘they had good luck because of him/her/it’ t-mái-xolca ‘they became quiet (rep.)’ t-ixáa-col ‘they had roots’
The rule also does not apply to consonants and vowels that are part of an enclitic: Declarative coo =ha ‘it is a guitarfish’ Interrogative coo =ya ‘is it a guitarfish?’ Future auxiliary s-ít =aha ‘it will be dull’
The rule also does not apply to consonants and vowels that are part of an enclitic / suffix / separate word: Switch reference i-t-áa ma ‘s/he was holding it...’ i-p-íi ta ‘if s/he hears it...’ Emphatic i-s-íi xo ‘S/he is going to hear it!’ (others)
The rule also does not apply to vowels that are epenthetic: the vowel that is inserted before a declarative enclitic that follows a consonant ctam i =ha ‘it is a man/male’ cmaam i =ha ‘it is a woman/female’
Cases where a prefix segment lengthens: a few stress-retracting verbs co-h-a (prefix-prefix-root) co-t-om (prefix-prefix-root) ta-m-om (prefix+epen.V-prefix-root) i-s-al (prefix-prefix-root) hi-h-e (prefix-prefix-root)
A few actual exceptions (no lengthening at all): -aitom ‘speak’ -oitom‘five’ -aato‘fight’ -iijim‘move (intr.)’
c-ooha [Èkoù?ùA] coo =ha [Èkoù?A] ‘the one who cries’ ‘it is a guitarfish’ s-íta =aha [ÈsitùAù?A] s-ít =aha [ÈsitùA?A] ‘it will be sharp’ ‘it will be dull’ qu-iti =ha [Èkitùiù?A] qu-it =iha [Èkitùi?A] ‘it is connected’ ‘it is dull’ c-caat =iha [ÈkkAùtùi?A] c-caa-t =iha [ÈkkAùti?A] ‘s/he moved it sideways’ ‘they are looking for it’ This rule + these restrictions = surface contrast c-cat =iha ‘s/he grabbed it’ c-caaat =iha ‘s/he is toasting it’
This rule + these restrictions = surface contrast cosi =ha [Èkosùiù?A]coos =iha [Èkosùi?a] ‘it is a thorn’ ‘s/he is singing’ cootaj [ÈkoùtùAùx] coo-taj [ÈkoùtAx] ‘ant’ ‘guitarfish (pl.)’ taama [ÈtAùmùA] i-táa ma [iÈtAùmA] ‘s/he was living...’ ‘s/he was holding it...’
The most interesting cases theoretically are those in which it is the contrast is found word-internally: cootaj [ÈkoùtùAùx] coo-taj [ÈkoùtAx] ‘ant’ ‘guitarfishes’ c-aat [ÈkkAùtù] c-caa-t [ÈkkAùt] ‘who moves it sideways’ ‘who are looking for it’
Classical Phonemics The investigation of the phonemic contrasts of the language was done without reference to the internal structure of the word. Utterances were compared with utterances. Pike (Phonemics, 1947) explicitly permitted reference to word and clitic boundaries, but does not go so far as to illustrate reference to simple morpheme boundaries.
Classical Phonemics As a result, an analysis that was developed within this framework proposed the existence of geminate consonants in Seri, and geminate vowels in post-tonic position as well as in the stressed syllable (Moser & Moser 1965). /koottaax/ ‘ant’ vs. /kootax/ ‘guitarfish’
Classical Generative Phonology Chomsky & Halle, SPE, p. 67: “We assign a very special status to formative boundary, in the following way. We assume that the presence of + can be marked in a rule, but that the absence of + cannot be marked in a rule…. This assumption regarding the role of formative boundary in phonological rules is indispensable.”
Classical Generative Phonology Chomsky & Halle, SPE, p. 67, con.: “… [This convention] implies that although we can frame phonological processes which are blocked by the presence of the boundary #, we cannot frame processes that are blocked by the presence of formative boundary.”
Lexical Phonology Property of postlexical rules in Lexical Phonology: apply without regards to morpheme boundaries since all word- internal boundaries are no longer visible. “A rule application requiring morphological information must take place in the lexicon.” Mohanan (1986) The theory of lexical phonology, p. 9.
Practical Problems Will post-tonic length/strength be represented? Yes No coottaaj vs. cootaj ‘ant’ cootaj vs. cootaj ‘guitarfish (pl.)’ happ vs. hap ‘mule deer’ happiha vs. hapiha ‘it is a mule deer’ hasst vs. hast ‘stone’
1955-1977 Post-tonic length was represented word- internally prevocalically, capturing all surface contrasts coottaaj vs. cootaj cootaj vs. cootaj happ vs. hap happiha vs. hapiha hasst vs. hast quittiiha vs. quitiha quittiha vs. quitiha
Problems: –words varied a lot in their form depending on their position in the phrase, and the position of the clause in the sentence, because of the effects of stress –this required the representation of a phonetic detail that is highly (but not entirely) predictable. –the “rule” for writing length is not straightforward
Post-tonic length is not represented, leaving unrepresented some surface contrasts coottaaj vs. cootaj ‘ant’ cootaj vs. cootaj ‘guitarfishes’ happ vs. hap ‘mule deer’ happiha vs. hapiha ‘it is a mule deer’ hasst vs. hast ‘stone’ quittiiha vs. quitiha ‘it is connected’ quittiha vs. quitiha ‘it is dull’ 1977-present
It would be possible to propose different conventions for writing enclitics, e.g. [tùAù] sita aha ‘it will be sharp’ [tùA] sit aha ‘it will be dull’ [tùiù] quiti-ha or quiti ha ‘it is connected’ [tùi] quit-iha or quit iha ‘it is dull’ [mùAù] taama ‘s/he was living...’ [mA] itaa-ma or itaa ma ‘s/he was holding it... ’
The most serious problems spelling-wise are the cases where root-belonging segments are distinguished from suffixal segments. [tùAù] ? cootaj ‘ant’ [tA] ? cootaj ‘guitarfishes’ [tù] ? caat ‘move sideways’ [t] ? caat ‘look for (pl.)’