Coyote Papers: Volume 11 (2000)
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Coyote Papers is a publication of the Linguistics Circle, the Graduate Student Organization of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona.
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Introduction (Coyote Papers 11, 2000)University of Arizona Linguistics Circle (Tucson, Arizona), 2000
Mohave Language Planning: Where Has It Been and Where Should It Go from Here?The Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), in Parker, Arizona, include four Native Arizonan tribes, Mohave, Chemehuevi, Navajo, and Hopi. These tribes function politically as a unit, although they are distinct in terms of language, culture, and history. While all Native American languages are endangered today, for two of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Mohave and Chemehuevi, the language situation is critical. In this paper, we will be concerned only with language planning as it relates to Mohave. As a background for the current language planning situation for Mohave, we briefly discuss the history and current circumstances of the CRIT reservation. We provide a short history of linguistic work on Mohave, we discuss current language planning efforts focused on Mohave, and finally, we make recommendations for continued language preservation and revitalization of Mohave.' We conclude that language planning on the CRIT reservation must involve efforts focused on each of the four tribal languages as well as the blending of language planning efforts for all four CRIT languages to reflect the integrated social reality of the CRIT.
Clitics, Scrambling and ParsingThe purpose of this paper is to devise optimal algorithms for parsing linguistic structures that contain P2 (Wackernagel) clitics. Since many languages that have P2 clitics also allow scrambling, any algorithms for parsing P2 clitics must also contain algorithms for parsing scrambled structures. Most of the energy of this paper, however, will be focused on P2 parsing. Although many languages have P2 clitics. I have focused most of my attention on Native American languages (with some exceptions). There is one major reason for this: languages of the Americas are almost entirely ignored by the computational and parsing literature, which focuses on languages of the Indo-European language family (and almost always on English, at that). By doing so, researchers deprive themselves of data and linguistic structural diversity that can help in devising more widely applicable parsing algorithms. This is a computational paper, the intention of which is to develop parsing procedures. Little attention will be paid to a specific syntactic /morphological theory, nor will much attention be paid to the form of the output. These are concerns that can be addressed in a later stage of parser design. What is an "optimal" parsing algorithm? I shall define the optimality of a given solution by the criteria in (1) below: (1) 1) The optimal solution is one which uses devices and formalisms whose generative capacity is as low as possible on the Chomsky hierarchy. 2) The optimal solution uses as few "rules" or "devices" as possible. Obviously, it will be necessary to strike a balance between these two criteria. For this reason, the issue of optimality may be somewhat lexìbìe, depending on how much weight is given to each criterion. The most optimal solutions might require the power of context -sensitive rules, but these may be used in concert with context -free or even finite-state rules.
Child Acquisition of Navajo and Quechua Verb Complexes: Issues of Paradigm LearningNavajo and Quechua, both morphologically rich languages, present an interesting testing ground for proposals regarding the acquisition of inflectional systems. Of particular interest for these languages is the development of the verb, which encodes not only tense, aspect, and number- /person-of- subject, but also such grammatical notions as transitivity, causation, modification and internal arguments. In fact, the complex verb forms which characterize these languages often constitute the entire VP or, indeed, the whole sentence. The languages are all the more fascinating because, typologically, the structure of the verbs in Navajo is roughly the mirror image of Quechua verbs: while complex Navajo verbs are formed by appending prefixes to the root or stem, Quechua verbs are formed entirely through suffixation. This is illustrated in the Navajo and Quechua equivalents of the English sentence, `They were feeding it to me, too': (1) a. Navajo: Shí - aɬdo' - shá - da - 'í - ø - ɬ - stood; me also for Pl obj subj CL impf stem:FEED b. Quechua: Mikhu - chi - sha - wa - rqa - n - ku - pis; EAT Caus Prog l obj Past 3 subj Pl Add. In the Navajo verb form, the disjunct prefixes (those furthest from the stem) include oblique object, adverbial, postposition, and plural, and the conjunct prefixes (those closest to the stem), the direct object, subject, and transitive classifier. The stem 'feed' occurs in final position and its form indicates imperfective aspect. By contrast, in the Quechua verb shown in (lb), the stem created by affixing the causative suffix to the root means 'cause to eat' or 'feed', and the final element, the Additive suffix, is an independent enclitic meaning 'also.' The morphemes occurring between the causative stem and the final enclitic are part of the inflectional set. In both languages, a verb must minimally consist of a root and a person-of-subject affix; that is, adult speakers do not produce bare verb roots or stems. However, in Navajo, the ordering of the prefixes in relation to the verb stem is quite rigid, whereas, in Quechua, some of the suffixes attached to the verb stem may occur in varied order. While the Quechua suffixes have unique and identifiable meanings, the rules for their combination often have no basis in semantics: they are idiosyncratic, including ordering restrictions which must be formulated as negative filters (Muysken 1986, Muysken 1988). Recent work by several researchers has yielded relevant, isolated proposals, many intended to enlighten the nativist-empiricist debate. For example, Hyams proposed the stem parameter, with two possible settings: a verbal stem is/is not a well-formed word (Hyams 1986a, Hyams 1994, Pizzuto and Caselli 1994). She further claimed that children set this parameter very early on. Assuming that Hyams' parameter is a valid constraint on verb formation, we would expect children acquiring morphologically rich languages never to produce bare verb roots or stems. In a number of studies on the acquisition of synthetic languages, the perceptual salience of particular syllables is cited as a vital cue in segmentation (Pye 1983, Aksu-Koç and Slobin 1985, Mithun 1989), with the phonologically most salient morphemes occurring at the periphery of words. We would therefore expect children to produce the inflectional morphemes first, before the derivational affixes found closer to the verb stem (Peters 1995). On the way to meaningful productivity, children acquiring morphologically rich languages may at first produce frozen chunks or amalgams of affixes, even splicing together different unanalyzed strings to form novel, sometimes ungrammatical combinations (Peters 1985 and elsewhere, Franco and Landa 1998, Rubino and Pine 1998). Finally, it has often been noted that children learning a variety of agglutinative languages may insert novel filler syllables into the affixal string, (e.g., Aksu -Koç and Slobin 1985, Saville-Troike 1996). Peters (1985 and later work) views the insertion of such "placeholder" syllables as further evidence of unanalyzed amalgams in child production. As illuminating as these studies may be, none presents a model for the acquisition of morphology as comprehensive as Pinker's (1984) proposal regarding the acquisition of inflectional systems through paradigm-learning. In the Introduction to the second edition (1996), Pinker later cites a number of studies confirming his original proposal. In developing the proposal, Pinker draws on observations of inflectional learning in a variety of languages, both his own and those of other researchers such as Slobin. This brings us to the aim of the present study: an exploration of the acquisition of verb morphology by children learning Navajo and Quechua in the context of Pinker's theory.
A Cross-Cultural Look at Child-Stealing WitchesOne of the important figures in Lummi mythology is Ch'eni, the Giant Woman (Ts'uXaelech) who comes during the night and steals children. When I first read the story of Ch'eni, I was struck by the similarity of this story to the well-known German tale by the Grimm brothers, 'Hansel and Gretel'. In fact, the story of Ch'eni is at first glance remarkably similar to several other children's tales in various cultures across the world. The goal of this paper is to explore the more subtle similarities and differences between the Lummi story and other stories in different cultures, in terms of the content of the discourse and the structure of the discourse used in the texts. We shall see that the Lummi story is in fact quite unique in its combination of elements of discourse content and structure. This makes the apparent similarity between it and other stories from around the world even more striking. Indeed, despite the numerous differences in terms of how the basic theme of the story is developed in Lummi and other cultures, the theme comes across clearly in all of the stories. This leads the reader (or listener) to mistakenly conclude that not only the main theme, but all aspects of the different stories are the same. The structure of the paper is as follows: in section 2, I outline the Lummi story of Ch'eni. In section 3, I discuss the content of this story, comparing it to that of /q'ɬəmáiəs/ in Sooke, Mosquito in Tlingit, Ho'ok in Tohono O'odham, Baba Yaga in Russian, Hansel and Gretel in German, and Yamamba in Japanese.' Finally, in section 4, I compare the discourse structure of the Lummi story to that in the other stories mentioned above.