The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 9/26 - Gillian Gallagher

Date: Monday Sept 26
Time: 4 pm (please note the unusual time!)
Location: 36-112 (please note the change of venue!)
Presenter: Gillian Gallagher, NYU
Title: Speaker awareness of non-local phonotactics in Quechua

I present evidence that speakers of Cochabamba Quechua are aware of non-local restrictions on laryngeal features in their language. A repetition task was run to investigate the synchronic status of two of the laryngeal restrictions in Quechua: the cooccurrence restriction on ejectives, which prohibits roots with two ejectives (e.g., *[k’ap’i]), and the ordering restriction on ejectives, which prohibits roots with an initial plain stop and a medial ejective (e.g., *[kap’i]). Medial ejectives are generally attested in the language, but only occur in roots with an initial fricative or sonorant e.g., [mat’i] ‘forehead’. Native Quechua speakers from the Cochabamba area of Bolivia were asked to repeat a mixture of real and nonsense words with medial ejectives, where the nonsense words were either phonotactically legal but unattested roots or phonotactically illegal roots that violated either the cooccurrence restriction or the ordering restriction. Medial ejectives are accurately repeated significantly more often in nonce roots where the medial ejective is phonotactically legal than when it is illegal. Moreover, there is no significant difference in error rate between attested and unattested but legal roots, nor any signficant difference in error rate between roots that violate the cooccurrence restriction and those that violate the ordering restriction. These results show that both restrictions are synchronically active. Additionally, there is variation in how roots that violate the ordering restriction are repaired, both deletion of medial ejection, e.g., target [kap’i] produced as [kapi], and movement of ejection, e.g., target [kap’i] produced as [k’api] are common. This variation in repair strategy has implications for the formal analysis of the restriction, which must predict all well-attested repairs.