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Title: Topics in Yalalag Zapotec, with particular reference to its phonetic structures
Authors: Becerra, Heriberto Avelino
Keywords: American Indigenous Languages
Otomanguean Languages
Yalalag Zapotec
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: University of California at Berkeley
Abstract: This dissertation is primarily intended as a description of the Yalalag Zapotec (YZ) language of Oaxaca, Mexico, with particular reference to its phonetic structures. The first section is an introduction to the Yalalag Zapotec language, its orthography and basic facts of its grammar. Chapter 2 outlines the noun and verb morphology, and Chapter 3 presents a sketch of sentence structure. The second section provides a detailed description of the phonetic structures of the language. Chapter 4 deals with vowels, consonants and tone. The YZ five modal vowels and four laryngealized vowel are described here. The phonetic properties of consonants are also presented, including the phonetic correlates of the fortis- lenis contrast. It is shown that VDT is a reliable parameter for obstruents; the phonetics of obstruent devoicing and consonant clusters are discussed. A description of the three contrastive tones in YZ closes the chapter. YZ data supports the typology of contour tone restrictions based on the weight of the rime: more sonorous and longer rimes are capable of bearing Falling tone; however, Falling tone can occur in non-sonorous rimes. Chapter 5 offers an analysis of vowel phonation, describing in detail the acoustic properties of modal and laryngealized vowels. The analysis shows that the time course of phonation in YZ is restricted to the edges of the vowel. This pattern suggests that the timing of nonrriodal phonation is organized to guarantee the production and perception of multiple phonemic features that could otherwise contradict each other in actual implementation. Chapter 6 presents a palatographic and acoustic study of YZ coronals, denti-alveolars, postalveolars and alveo-palatals. The compression of corona' consonants in a narrow articulatory space allows us to observe the degree of variability in their production. The third section is composed of two chapters devoted to an investigation of the perception of tone in YZ. Chapter 7 investigates whether the perception of tone in YZ is categorical. Chapter 8 presents a dichotic listening experiment concerning the perception of linguistic and non-linguistic pitch in YZ. The results do not support a categorical perception of tone and show a consistent right ear advantage for lexical tone.
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