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Matt Gordon

UC Santa Barbara

Monday, May 16th at 2:00 PM in AP&M 4301.
Cancelled due to Illness 

Tonal strength hierarchies in Koasati: where the lexicon, intonation, and morphology collide

Abstract:  This talk will present results of ongoing research conducted with Jack Martin (College of William & Mary) on the prosodic system of Koasati, an endangered Muskogean language spoken in Louisiana and Texas. Koasati words and utterances feature a complex array of pitch events, which are attributed to the interaction of lexical, morphological and intonational tones. The concatenation of tones from multiple sources frequently gives rise to tonal crowding, which triggers different responses depending on the types of tones involved, their source, and their temporal associations. Along one dimension of strength, high tones have priority over low tones. Along another morphological axis, tones associated with negation take precedence over aspectual tones, which in turn prevail over past tense tones, which vary in their strength relative to boundary tones. Finally, tones realized on a single syllable are more resilient than those spanning two syllables. Depending on the particular tones competing with each other responses to tonal crowding vary between deletion of one of the offending tones to shifting their temporal realization. The scales of tonal strength and the varied responses to tonal crowding in Koasati will be considered from a cross-linguistic perspective in order to draw typological generalizations about the resolution of tonal competition.