Vowel Length Variability in Mutsun: Perception, Phonology, and Attrition
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis research examines vowel length variability and attempts to quantify when such variability is more or less likely to occur. It looks specifically at vowel length variation in transcribed surface forms of words in Mutsun, a dormant Penutian language of California. In Mutsun, there are patterns to vowel length (e.g. underlying long vowels are shortened in closed syllables and in word-final syllables). Some words, specifically monosyllabic words, seem to inconsistently violate these strict phonological rules. With access to the entire electronic corpus of the language as well as all of the handwritten notes of ethnographer/linguist John. P. Harrington, this paper uses modern phonological theory and methods of corpus linguistics to discover whether or not there is a pattern to these variations. Variation is measured statistically in disyllabic words to test variation in more-common environments, both in the first and second syllables. With this baseline of measured variability, monosyllabic words are measured. It is shown that vowel length is transcribed more variably in monosyllabic words, but monosyllabic stems in polysyllabic words are transcribed less variably. This could be due to an inability to perceive length in isolated syllables or by a phonological process which neutralizes vowel length in monosyllabic roots.
Degree ProgramHonors College