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Word-level Prosody in Balsas Nahuatl: The Origin, Development, and Acoustic Correlates of Tone in a Stress Accent Language

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Word-level Prosody in Balsas Nahuatl: The Origin, Development, and Acoustic Correlates of Tone in a Stress Accent Language
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  This article appeared in a journal published by Elsevier. The attachedcopy is furnished to the author for internal non-commercial researchand education use, including for instruction at the authors institutionand sharing with colleagues.Other uses, including reproduction and distribution, or selling orlicensing copies, or posting to personal, institutional or third partywebsites are prohibited.In most cases authors are permitted to post their version of thearticle (e.g. in Word or Tex form) to their personal website orinstitutional repository. Authors requiring further informationregarding Elsevier’s archiving and manuscript policies areencouraged to visit:http://www.elsevier.com/copyright  Author's personal copy Journal of Phonetics 38 (2010) 137–166 Word-level prosody in Balsas Nahuatl: The srcin, development, andacoustic correlates of tone in a stress accent language Susan G. Guion a,  , Jonathan D. Amith b , Christopher S. Doty a , Irina A. Shport a a Department of Linguistics, 1290 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97478-1290, USA b Department of Anthropology, Gettysburg College, Campus Box 412, Gettysburg, PA 17325, USA Received 4 April 2007; received in revised form 18 February 2009; accepted 25 March 2009 Abstract Here we investigate the historical srcins and acoustic correlates of a hypothesized tonal development in subdialects of the Nahuatlspoken in the Balsas River valley of central Guerrero state in Mexico. We hypothesize that some subdialects have developed high tone ona syllable preceding a syllable with a breathy-voiced coda [ 9 ] ( o * h ). In subdialects retaining [ 9 ], coda [ 9 ] was found to slightly lower F0on the tautosyllabic vowel, creating a high–low F0 contour beginning on the preceding syllable. We propose that tone was developed as areanalysis of the F0 contour as a phonological tonal specification. Through this tonal development, hybrid stress and tone systems havearisen, as the historical penultimate stress accent described for Nahuatl generally has been retained in the tonal dialects. Though suchsystems are typologically rare, a comparison of the development of other such hybrid systems indicates that they follow a similarhistorical path. That is, a stress language develops tone through the reinterpretation of a coarticulatory F0 effect as a tonal specification.We suggest that hybrid stress and tone systems may be unstable: Our results indicate that the historical stress accent may be transitioningto tone in subdialects with innovated tone. r 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction We propose that the word-level prosody of somevarieties of Nahuatl has recently undergone a change.Classical Nahuatl and nearly all modern dialects aredescribed as having a fixed penultimate stress accent(Andrews, 1975; Beller & Beller, 1979; Brewer & Brewer, 1971; Brockway, 1979; Lastra de Su a´ rez, 1981; Munro,1977; Ram ı´ rez de Alejandro & Dakin, 1979; Sischo, 1979; Tuggy, 1979). We hypothesize that, in what is a historicallyfixed stress accent language, tone has developed as a reflexof a breathy coda segment in two subdialects of Nahuatlspoken along the Balsas River: Oapan, where the segmenthas been lost, and Ahuelic a´ n, where the segment has beenmaintained. While hybrid tone and stress accent systemsare not unattested, they are unusual. The rarity of suchsystems may reflect a phonologically unstable situation orit may simply be that such systems rarely develop inlanguages. In either case, the Nahuatl varieties investigatedhere provide us with an opportunity to study the srcin anddevelopment of a hybrid prosodic system. Our acousticinvestigation revealed that the innovated tones are encodedprimarily by F0. The penultimate stress accent, on theother hand, is encoded primarily by spectral balance(H1-H2 and H1-A2) and secondarily by duration. In thetwo subdialects that have developed tone, however, thepenultimate stress accent may be transitioning to tone, asthere are less stress-like acoustic correlates (i.e., reducedH1-H2, H1-A2, and/or duration effects) than found innon-tonal subdialects. Additionally, the historical stressaccents have begun to interact phonologically with theinnovated tone in certain environments, providing evidencefor their incipient tonal status. ARTICLE IN PRESS www.elsevier.com/locate/phonetics0095-4470/$-see front matter r 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2009.03.006  Corresponding author. Tel.: +15413463682; fax: +15413465961. E-mail address:  guion@uoregon.edu (S.G. Guion).  Author's personal copy 1.1. Typological background on stress, tone and hybrid systems Before detailing the current study, we locate our workwithin the typology of word-prosodic systems and changewithin those systems. This is no easy task, as varioustypologies have been proposed for word-level prosody.While not providing an exhaustive treatment, here weconsider some of the main types of word-prosodic systemsthat have been proposed. One primary dividing line amongtypologies is how the category ‘‘accent’’ is defined anddelineated from other prosodic types.One view, proposed by Beckman (1986), is that accentualsystems mark syntagmatic contrasts within a word. Inother words, accented syllables stand out relative tounaccented syllables. Tonal systems, on the other hand,mark paradigmatic contrasts in which one tone can contrastwith another tone in the same domain (e.g., word ormorpheme). In Beckman’s view, accent may be realizedphonetically as either  stress accent  or  non-stress accent . Stressaccent is hypothesized to differ phonetically from non-stressaccent. Although stress accent may have F0 as a correlate, itis thought to use acoustic correlates other than F0 moreextensively than non-stress accent. The correlates of stressaccent can include duration, amplitude, and vowel quality.Hyman (2006) has recently proposed a differentapproach to word-level prosodic typology.  Stress accent is the only accentual type admitted and it is defined byfeatures of metrical prominence. A language with stressaccent must meet the word-level metrical criteria of  obligatoriness  —every word must have at least one syllablemarked with the highest degree of metrical prominence(primary stress)—and  culminativity  —every word must haveat most one syllable marked with primary stress (Hyman,2006, p. 231). The only other category admitted is  tone ,which is defined as a language ‘‘in which an indication of pitch enters into the lexical realization of at least somemorphemes’’ (Hyman, 2006, p. 229). In other words, alanguage is considered tonal if phonological specification atthe lexical level is related to F0 in speech production, evenif such specification is not found for all lexical items.Languages like English and Dutch are categorized asstress accent by both of these typologies. Likewise,languages with multiple, lexically contrastive tones, suchas Mandarin, are categorized as tone by both typologies.Where the typologies differ is in the categorization of languages that have tonal specifications for only somewords or morphemes, especially in the case of a privative(i.e., present or absent) specification on a limited number of syllables in the word. Tokyo Japanese is a classic exampleof such a language (e.g., Pierrehumbert & Beckman, 1988).Beckman’s (1986) typology would classify these cases as non-stress accent, due to the syntagmatic nature of thecontrast. Hyman’s (2006) typology would classify thesecases as tone because they violate the criterion of obligatoriness needed for stress accent but conform to thedefinition of tone by specifying ‘‘an indication of pitch’’ onthe lexical realization of at least some morphemes. Thesesorts of cases have been the subject of much debate amongtypologists. Another approach has been to classify suchcases as  pitch accent , as do, for example, Van der Hulst andSmith (1988), who describe word-prosodic typology as acontinuum between stress and tone, with pitch accentfalling somewhere in the middle.Our working hypothesis was that some of the varieties of Nahuatl studied here have developed privative specificationsfor pitch on some words and morphemes. In other words, wehypothesize the development of difficult-to-categorize pat-terns that have variously been termed non-stress accent, tone,or pitch accent. Here we will refer to these innovations as tones , following Hyman (2006), as well as other recent treatments of typologically similar prosodic phenomena (e.g.,Gussenhoven, 2004). The varieties of Nahuatl studied herealso exhibit the word-prosodic feature found in other extantvarieties of Nahuatl, which may be uncontroversially termed stress accent  in either of the typologies reviewed here. As willbe presented below, this accentual prominence is historicallylocated on the penultimate syllable of the word, although inthe two tonogenetic variants the locus of this stress accentmay shift in words that have innovated tone. Anotherpurpose of this paper is to investigate the phonetic propertiesof the stress accent to determine whether they are typical of those found in stress languages generally and whether thereare any variations in the acoustic correlates of the stressaccent among the dialects.Thus, some of the Nahuatl varieties treated here arehypothesized to be hybrid systems with both tone andstress accent (in Hyman’s sense). Few such systems aredocumented in the literature. Indeed, as Remijsen and vanHeuven (2005) have noted, some earlier views of wordprosody disallowed hybrid systems (cf. Clements & Ford,1979; Haraguchi, 1988). However, languages with inde- pendent tone and stress systems have been attested. Forexample, Pike (1986) described Central Carrier, anAthabaskan language, as having word-final stress withthree different word-level tonal patterns and Clark (1988)analyzed Zulu, a Bantu language, as having four tonalpatterns which are independent of stress placement.More recent studies have offered thorough phoneticinvestigations of hybrid systems. Everett (1998) describedPirah a˜ , an Amazonian Mura language, as a tone languagein which every vowel is specified for one of two tones. Inaddition, Pirah a˜  has an independent stress accent that isassigned by syllable weight. Everett’s acoustic investigationof the stress accent revealed that stressed syllables havegreater peak amplitude, as well as a greater duration of theonset consonant. In contrast, vowel quality and funda-mental frequency (F0) were not correlated with stressaccent. Remijsen (2002) described Ma’ya, an Austronesianlanguage, as having contrastive stress accent, as well as anindependent three-way tonal contrast on final syllables.Stressed vowels were found to have longer duration, lesscentralization, and relatively more energy in the1000–1750Hz range than unstressed syllables, while F0 ARTICLE IN PRESS S.G. Guion et al. / Journal of Phonetics 38 (2010) 137–166  138  Author's personal copy was a relatively weak correlate of stress. In contrast, hefound that the tonal contrasts were primarily correlatedwith F0 differences. Remijsen and van Heuven (2005)described Curac - ao Papiamentu, a Caribbean Creole, ashaving contrastive stress that is independent of the tonalspecification found on the penultimate syllable in somewords. In an innovative design, Remijsen and van Heuvenelicited words varying in stress and tone in multipleprosodic contexts. Specifically, they controlled for utter-ance position (medial and final), and focus (narrow focus,default focus, and out of focus). Though not a fullyfactorial design, the manipulation of prosodic conditionrevealed an F0 specification for tone, regardless of discourse context. In contrast, F0 was not correlated withstress. F0 specifications on stressed syllables could beattributed to intonational effects such as focus-inducedprominence or an utterance-final fall. Stressed syllableswere instead primarily correlated with greater duration, aswell as greater intensity, and had more peripheral vowelnuclei, regardless of discourse context. 1.2. Development of tone in stress accent systems In this paper, we present an investigation of thediachronic srcin, as well as the synchronic realization, of a hybrid stress and tone system in two subdialects of BalsasNahuatl. In this section we consider the historicaldevelopment of similar prosodic systems cross-linguisticallyto determine whether there is a typical pathway of development. The studies on hybrid systems reviewed inthe last section only describe synchronic systems. 1 Thereare, however, a few studies that provide some discussion of the mechanics of development of tone in stress languages.Tones have developed from the loss of coda /h/ (in Jeh;Graden, 1966), the loss of onset /r/ (in Khmer; Wayland, &Guion, 2005), or the loss of either coda /h/ or the pre- aspiration of a stop consonant in the following syllableonset (in Hopi; Manaster-Ramer, 1986). Graden (1966) describes the Mon-Khmer language Jeh as having stress onthe ‘main’ syllable, which is the final of two syllables or theonly syllable in the case of monosyllabic words. At thesame time, some words have developed a rising tonalspecification on final syllables that have lost a coda /h/. Inone dialect, Dak Trap, the tone has a wider distributionand is also found on final syllables in which coda voicelessstops have become nasals. Wayland and Guion (2005)report that the Phnom Penh dialect of Khmer, also a Mon-Khmer language, has developed tonal specifications onsome words conditioned by the loss of an onset /r/. LikeJeh, Khmer has one stress per word in monosyllables ordisyllables, with the exception of some compounds. TheUto-Aztecan language Hopi has also been described as astress language that has developed tones. Manaster-Ramer(1986) compares modern Hopi to work done in the 1930sand finds that where modern Hopi has a long vowel withhigh-to-low falling tone, earlier Hopi had a short vowelfollowed by either segmental coda /h/ or the pre-aspirationof a stop consonant in the following syllable onset. 2 Thisdevelopment introduced independent tonal specificationson some words, although the historical stress falling on oneof the first two syllables is apparently kept.Given this rather limited set of data, a tentativedevelopmental course can be proposed for stress systemsdeveloping into hybrid stress and tone systems. In suchcases, a given segment has an effect on the F0 of asurrounding vowel. This effect is then reinterpreted as aphonological F0 specification. The srcinal conditioningsegment may then be lost, leaving only the F0 specification.In other words, a phonological specification that has F0 asa secondary perceptual cue is reinterpreted as a phonolo-gical specification for which F0 is the primary cue. Such aproposal is also made here for the Nahuatl subdialectsunder consideration. Specifically, we hypothesize that acoda [ 9 ] conditioned the development of a specification forF0 on some lexical items. The effect of breathy voicing onfundamental frequency and its role in the conditioning of tonal innovation will be discussed in the next section. 1.3. Background on Balsas Nahuatl  Nahuatl is the southernmost language of the Uto-Aztecan family, with variants spoken from the northernMexican state of Durango (where it is known asMexicanero) to the Cozcatl a´ n province of El Salvador(where it is known as Pipil). To date, the variants of Nahuatl investigated in this paper are the only onesdescribed as having developed tone.Since the time of Classical Nahuatl in the seventeenthcentury, linguistic accounts of Nahuatl have described an‘‘accent’’ or ‘‘stress’’ on the penultimate syllable in a wordas the predominant prosodic pattern (see Andrews, 1975,for a summary of the Classical descriptions and Beller &Beller, 1979; Brewer & Brewer, 1971; Brockway, 1979; Lastra de Su a´ rez, 1981; Ram ı´ rez de Alejandro & Dakin,1979; Sischo, 1979; Tuggy, 1979, for descriptions of  modern Nahuatl dialects). 3 Given that the earliest descrip-tions of Nahuatl from the seventeenth century, as well asthose from modern times, describe a prosodic prominenceon the penultimate syllable, we assume that the historicalword prosody in the Balsas Nahuatl studied here is similarand, thus, that penultimate prosodic prominence is a ARTICLE IN PRESS 1 Remijsen (2002) writes that the tones in Ma’ya are a secondarydevelopment, but does not propose a specific account of their innovation. 2 Shaul (2000) also reports that Northern Tepehuan (Tepiman subfamilyof Southern Uto-Aztecan) has developed tonal contrasts related to the lossof /h/. However, the exact nature of this development has not yet beenfully described. 3 Some dialects of Nahuatl exhibit different stress locations for some orall words, but these can be attributed to effects of historical processes suchas cliticization or loss of a final vowel (Boas, 1917; Brockway, Brockway, & Vald e´ s, 2000; Munro, 1977; Wolgemuth, 2002). A fuller description of  previous work on Nahuatl prosody is presented in Amith (unpublishedms.). S.G. Guion et al. / Journal of Phonetics 38 (2010) 137–166   139  Author's personal copy continuation of the historical pattern. As mentioned above,the penultimate prosodic prominence would be classified as astress accent in Hyman’s (2006) typology, as it meets thecriteria of obligatoriness and culminativity, and will bereferred to as such here. No previous studies have investigatedthe phonetic aspects of this stress accent, and descriptionshave been based on auditory impressions. Likewise, thenumbered linguistic examples given in this paper are based onour fieldwork in the Balsas River area and reflect ourauditory impressions, along with those of numerous native-speaker consultants (including two who have been workingon a documentation project for over 5 years) who haveconfirmed our auditory impressions and feel that the stressaccents and hypothesized tones are correctly marked.The domain of stress assignment, which can be termed aphonological word, may consist of many morphemes in thisagglutinative language. For example, a noun or verb mayhave several prefixes and suffixes with just one penultimatestress (see (1) and (2) for examples from the non-tonogenetic variety of Nahuatl spoken in Ameyaltepec). (1) nont <               Þ ana " makasn- on- t <               Þ a namaka -s1 SG . S -  EXTRA . DIR -  NR ef  NHUM . O - to.sell - FUT . SG 4 ‘I will go to sell’(2) timits               Þ wa 7 lpale 7 wi 7 s " nekinti- mits               Þ wa 7 l- pale 7 wi 7  -s neki -n1 PL . S - 2 SG .O-  INTRA . DIR - to.help - FUT . SG - to.want - PRES . PL ‘we want to come help you’ In this paper we demonstrate, through acoustic analysis,that stress accent in Nahuatl is realized by acousticcorrelates typically found in stress accent languages suchas duration and distribution of acoustic energy acrossthe frequency range, i.e., spectral balance (Sluijter &van Heuven, 1996a, 1996b). It is also possible that thestressed syllable will serve as a location for the alignmentof intonational pitch accents (see, e.g., Ladd, 1996;Pierrehumbert, 1980). If this is the case, F0 effects maybe associated with stressed syllables for some pragmaticfunctions, such as focus, or may be associated with stressedsyllables occurring in particular positions within theutterance, such as initial vs. final position.Recently, Amith (unpublished ms.) has put forth the claimthat some varieties of Nahuatl along the Balsas River inGuerrero, Mexico, have developed new, lexical tonalspecifications conditioned by coda [ 9 ], while maintainingthe penultimate stress accent. Based on fieldwork with nativespeakers, Amith described the phonological patterning of thenew tones in the Nahuatl spoken in the villages of SanAgust ı´ n Oapan and Ahuelic a´ n. He postulated high tones onsome, but not all, words and noted that it was possible tohave multiple high tones in one word. He also noted that if these novel high tones were not present in a word, then onlythe expected penultimate stress accent was present. Amithdescribed the tonal specifications in the village of Ahuelic a´ nto have different tonal patterning from that in Oapan.It will be our goal in the current paper to investigate boththe claim that novel tones have been developed in the villagesof Oapan and Ahuelic a´ n and the srcin of the postulatedtones. Additionally, we will investigate the phonetic proper-ties of the penultimate stress accents found in these villagesand in the neighboring communities of Ameyaltepec and SanMiguel Tecuiciapan, which do not manifest any tonalinnovation (see Table 1).Amith (unpublished ms.) has proposed that the novelhigh tones in Oapan are related to the position of ahistorical non–phrase-final coda * h  (which developed into[ 9 ] and was then lost in some subdialects). The high toneappears either on the syllable preceding the one with * h  oron the same syllable, depending on the location of thesyllable with coda * h  within the word. In both cases, thehistorical * h  has been lost in Oapan. The Oapan words in(3) and (4) illustrate the postulated development of a hightone on a syllable preceding that with coda * h . Throughoutthis article, the historical forms, marked with ‘*’, areshallow reconstructions of Balsas area Nahuatl based oncorrespondences with neighboring varieties and informedby evidence from Classical Nahuatl. The Oapan words in(5) and (6) illustrate the postulated development of a hightone on a vowel tautosyllabic to coda * h . Amith proposedthat the srcinal development was in the syllable precedingcoda * h  (as in (3) and (4)) and that high tones on syllableswith * h  (as in (5) and (6)) came about through laterdevelopments in Oapan that did not occur in Ahuelic a´ n. 5 (3) mist <               Þ a´ so " t <               Þ askeh  o *mits               Þ t <               Þ aso h " t <               Þ askehØ- mits               Þ - t <               Þ asoht <               Þ a -skeh3 PL . S - 2 SG .O- to.cherish - FUT . PL ‘they will cherish you’(4) kip o´ lo " tokeh  o *kipolo h " tokehØ- ki- poloh -tokeh3 PL . S - 3 SG .O- to.lose - DUR . PRES . PL ‘they are losing it’ ARTICLE IN PRESS 4 The following abbreviations are used in the morphological parsing of the examples in the text:1, 2, 3, 1st, 2nd, 3rd person;  SG , singular;  PL , plural;  S , subject;  O , object; POSSR , possessor;  R ef, referencial;  NR ef, non-referencial;  H um, human; NH um, non-humam;  ABS , absolutive (indicates a singular, unpossessednouns);  AGENT , agentive;  ALIEN , alienable;  COMPL , completive;  DIMIN ,diminutive;  DUR , durative;  EXTRA . DIR , extraverse directional;  FUT , future; IMPERFV , imperfective;  INTRA . DIR , intraverse directional;  PERFV , perfective; POSSD , possessed;  PRES , present;  RDP .s/h, monomoraic reduplicant withcoda * h 5 The examples in this section are based on transcriptions andconsultation with native speakers of the respective subdialects. Wordsare transcribed as produced in an isolated context. The high tone mark [ 0 ]indicates a high tone and the stress mark [ " ] indicates a high F0 associatedwith the historical penultimate stress accent that may be found either onthe penultimate syllable or the final syllable in the synchronic forms (i.e.,those to the left of the ‘ o ’). The historical forms, to the right of the ‘ o ’and marked with ‘*’, are shallow reconstructions of Balsas area Nahuatl. S.G. Guion et al. / Journal of Phonetics 38 (2010) 137–166  140
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