Juncture epenthesis in Filomeno Mata Totonac: prosodic constraints and syntactic conditions

  • Author / Creator
    Quintana Godoy,Mariana
  • This thesis describes and analyzes the occurrence of juncture epentheses at word boundaries in Filomeno Mata Totonac. In this language, when two consonants come together at a word boundary, a vowel is often inserted; and when a vowel and an oral stop come together at a word boundary, there is often an insertion of a nasal homorganic to the oral stop. However, these segmental conditions are not enough to predict when these epenthesis rules will apply. In previous descriptions of juncture epentheses, both in Filomeno Mata Totonac and in other Totonac languages with similar phenomena, junctures were attributed mainly to prosody. The most developed analyses go so far as to propose that juncture phenomena demarcate a prosodic domain.
    In this thesis, I examine the distribution of juncture epentheses in Filomeno Mata Totonac to find out what conditions their occurrence and how accurate the predictions made by previous descriptions are. To do this, I analyze a small corpus of spontaneous speech by annotating it to mark its prosodic units and basic syntactic relations. Then I test the two main hypotheses that could be derived from previous descriptions: Hypothesis 1, which posits that juncture epentheses do not occur at Intonational Phrase boundaries; and Hypothesis 2, which posits that if there is a Prosodic Word boundary within an Intonational Phrase that is segmentally eligible for a juncture epenthesis (i.e., consonant–consonant or vowel–oral stop boundaries), this will trigger one. Hypothesis 1 correctly predicts the position of 87% of the nasal epentheses, and 81% of the vowel epentheses in the corpus. Hypothesis 2 correctly predicts 61% of the nasal epentheses, and only 45% of the vowel epenthesis in the corpus. Paying further attention to the cases unpredicted by the tested hypotheses—that is, juncture epentheses occurring at Intonational Phrase boundaries and Prosodic Word boundaries that are segmentally eligible for a juncture epenthesis but that do not have one—it becomes evident that the conditions for these epentheses are motivated at the lexical and syntactic levels.
    I also evaluate the possibility that the exceptions to Hypothesis 2 (i.e., the word boundaries that are segmentally eligible for a juncture epenthesis but that do not have one) correspond to a prosodic domain larger than the Prosodic Word and smaller than the Intonational Phrase, following analyses of related phenomena in other Totonac languages. However, I argue that there is no conclusive evidence yet to support such a hypothetical prosodic domain in Filomeno Mata Totonac as there appear to be no other prosodic phenomena associated with it, and the fact that the distribution of many junctures is sensitive to very specific syntactic information. What ultimately conditions the application of juncture epentheses in the corpus is a set of lexical and syntactic conditions that are exhaustively presented in this thesis.
    This is not to say juncture epentheses are unrelated to prosody. I also show that they are constrained not to occur inside the Prosodic Word or at Utterance boundaries; that they tend not to occur at Intonational Phrase boundaries (although this tendency is occasionally overridden by syntactic structure); and that their absence can be read as an Intonational Phrase boundary when other acoustic cues are weak. In other words, juncture epentheses do provide evidence of at least three prosodic levels in Filomeno Mata Totonac—the Prosodic Word, the Intonational Phrase, and the Utterance.
    In conclusion, in this thesis I show that juncture epentheses in Filomeno Mata Totonac are constrained by prosodic factors, display strong prosodic tendencies, and play a role in how some prosodic levels are demarcated, but that their distribution is also determined by lexical and syntactic motivations that cannot be captured by a prosodic domain.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.