Syncope in the Verbal Prefixes of Tlingit: Meter and Surface Phonotactics

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Title: Syncope in the Verbal Prefixes of Tlingit
Subtitle: Meter and Surface Phonotactics
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Native American Linguistics 53
Published: 2006
Publisher: Lincom GmbH

Author: Seth Cable, MIT
Paperback: ISBN: 389586377 Pages: 84 Price: Euro 84.00


This study presents an extended discussion and analysis of a seemingly idiosyncratic syncope process governing the verbal prefix string of Tlingit, a highly endangered and understudied Na-Dene language of Southeast Alaska and Northern British Columbia.

The author argues for a constraint-based analysis of this alternation, formulated within the specific framework of Optimality Theory. Under this analysis, the Tlingit syncope alternation functions to improve the overall metrical well-formedness of the resulting word.

Moreover, much of the apparently irregular character of the rule is shown to follow from independently visible phonotactic constraints operating over distinct sub-portions of the verbal prefix string.

This monograph may thus be considered a contribution to the growing literature seeking to analyze the notoriously complex prefixal allomorphy of the Na-Dene languages in a constraint-based, output-oriented framework, and to understand aspects of this allomorphy in terms of the surface phonotactics of the prefix string itself. The proposed analysis bears on various wider debates and issues within phonological theory, such as the analysis of syllable contact phenomena and anti-gemination, the empirical justification of prosodic domains, the mapping between prosodic domains and morphosyntactic structure, whether prosodic domains may overlap, and the ways in which metrical structure can be detected.

(A preprint of this monograph can be found here.)

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