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Matt Gordon

UC Santa Barbara

Monday May 8th, 2017 at 2:00pm in AP&M 4301

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

Abstract: This talk presents 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 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. Lexical and morphological tones have priority over phrasal tones and over final boundary tones in statements but not in questions. Along the morphological axis, tones attributed to negation take precedence over aspectual tones, which in turn prevail over tense tones. Finally, tautosyllabic bitonal contours are more resilient than bitonal sequences containing a trailing tone. Responses to tonal crowding vary depending on the source of the competing tones. Options include deleting one of the offending tones, rescaling their height, shifting their temporal realization, or preserving their canonical properties. The scales of tonal strength and the varied strategies to resolve tonal crowding in Koasati will be considered from a cross-linguistic perspective in order to enrich typological understanding of the resolution of tonal crowding.