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The phonology of pitch accents in Chickasaw

  • Matthew Gordon (a1)

Abstract

This paper examines the phonology of pitch accents in Chickasaw, a Muskogean language of Oklahoma. Chickasaw is typologically unusual in displaying a predominantly top-down prominence system, in which phonological and morphological factors that are irrelevant for word-level stress play a crucial role in positioning the pitch accent in an Intonational Phrase. Word-level stress docks on the same syllable as the pitch accent, leading to asymmetries between stress patterns found in words carrying a pitch accent and words without a pitch accent. This type of top-down prominence system emerges naturally in Optimality Theory through an inviolable constraint requiring alignment of pitch accents and stress, coupled with the ranking of certain phrasal pitch-accent constraints above word-level stress constraints.

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The author is indebted to the speakers of Chickasaw who made this study possible, including the following: Frankie Alberson, Adeline Brown, Willie Byars, Onita Carnes, Thomas and Lizzie Frazier, Jerry Imotichey, Mary James, William Pettigrew, Eloise Pickens, Lee Fannie Roberts, Mary Ella Russell, Thomas Underwood, Jimmie Walker and especially Catherine Willmond, who has generously and patiently provided hours and hours worth of data. In addition, a great debt of gratitude is owed to Pam Munro, whose work on Chickasaw provided the groundwork for this study, and whose encouragement and suggestions have made possible this investigation of Chickasaw pitch accents. Thanks to Pam Munro for her insightful discussion of the data presented herein, to Wally Chafe for useful discussion of Northern Iroquoian prosody and to Bruce Hayes, Ellen Kaisse, an associate editor and four anonymous Phonology reviewers for their comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper. Thanks also to Carol Genetti, Sun-Ah Jun and audiences at the 2001 LSA annual meeting in Washington, DC and at UCLA and UCSB for their comments and suggestions on this research, and to the National Science Foundation for their financial support of a field-trip to Oklahoma as part of a grant to study endangered languages awarded to Peter Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson. Any remaining errors and misconceptions are solely the author's responsibility.

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The phonology of pitch accents in Chickasaw

  • Matthew Gordon (a1)

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