The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 11/14 - Cora Lesure

Speaker: Cora Lesure (MIT)
Title: La Morfología y la Ortografía del Chuj // Morphophonology and Orthographic Development in Chuj (Mayan)
Date/Time: Monday, November 14, 5:00–6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

This is a practice talk for FAMLi 4 (Form and Analysis in Mayan Linguistics 4) where I will be giving the same talk but in Spanish. The aim of the talk is to present theoretically interesting work on Chuj morphophonology which is understudied, as well as illustrate the direct applications of this work to orthographic development. This is done through examining the disputed use of the grapheme `h’ as well as the disputed status of [h] as a phoneme. There are three prevailing ideologies:
1) [h] is not a phoneme and should not be used as a grapheme at all (Buenrostro 2013)
2) [h] is not a phoneme but is used as a grapheme word initially to indicate that glottal stop epenthesis has not occurred (Similar to its use in Q’anjob’al, Mateo Toledo 1995)
3) [h] is a phoneme and should be used as a grapheme word initially and intervocalically (Domingo Pascual 2007)

I examine the positions in which [h] has been reported, namely in word initial position as well as in the vowel initial allomorph of the second person singular ergative prefix: h-, and determine that it is minimally contrastive in specific contexts. Even when it is not present as a segment, due to interactions with the process of root initial glottal stop epenthesis, a contrast remains salient. For example:

1) tzek’i [ts’ek’i]
‘He passed by’

2) tz(h)ila’ [tsilaʔ]
‘You saw him’

Above, though both the 3rd person absolutive marker and the 2nd person ergative marker are phonologically null, only the ergative marker prevents glottal stop epenthesis. In (1) glottal stop epenthesis results in the imperfective aspect marker [ts] being pronounced ejective [ts’].