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Minimality, maximality and perfect prosodic word in Alcozauca Mixtec

Abstract

In Alcozauca Mixtec, an Otomanguean language spoken in Mexico, the prosodic word is ideally minimally and maximally bimoraic. On the one hand, all monosyllabic stems have a long vowel so that they would be bimoraic, which has been reported across Mixtec varieties. On the other hand, prosodic words that are longer than two moras often undergo truncation and allomorphic alternation to fit into this ideal template that consists of a bimoraic foot, especially in casual speech. In this sense, the bimoraic foot constitutes the perfect prosodic word (Ito and Mester 2015) in Alcozauca Mixtec. A set of prosodic-word size restrictor constraints, namely Foot-Binarity, Parse(μ) and All-Feet-Right, is proposed to account for minimality effects (McCarthy and Prince 1994:17); in this paper, it will be shown that maximality effects are also predicted by the same set of constraints, and that such a prediction is borne out in Alcozauca Mixtec. Such an analysis is contrasted with an analysis with a constraint against a non-head foot, *Ft- (de Lacy 2003), with an analysis with a cover constraint Perfect Word (Ito and Mester 2015), and with an economy constraint *Structure (Prince and Smolensky 1993); it will be argued that a reductionist approach with the three prosodic-word size restrictor constraints is more appropriate to account for the Mixtec data. Such an approach also makes a typological prediction that maximality always entails minimality, but not vice versa.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The small capital l represents that the word begins with a low tone. A high tone is assigned in the surface form from the second mora when the word has no accent.

  2. 2.

    In Alcozauca Mixtec, the violation of this constraint is evaluated by one violation for each foot that is not at the right edge of the PWrd regardless of how many intervening constituents there are.

  3. 3.

    In the original definition in Snider (2018), tone patterns are properties of the morpheme, and not prosodic structures such as the foot. In this paper, we loosen the definition to include the non-basic tone patterns that are realized on the foot, which may result from morpheme concatenation, such as ka2sũ1 [prf.fry] ‘fried’. We include such forms because some of the tonal patterns are only found in polymorphemic forms in Alcozauca Mixtec, admitting that the foot is the prosodic structure to which the complex morphosyntactic structure is mapped. For the same reason, the quadruplet in (11) contains forms from different lexical categories.

  4. 4.

    Penner (2019:86) lists two phonotactic constraints motivated by the Obligatory Contour Principle (the prohibition against sequences of a glide + their homorganic vowels, *ji, *wo, *wu) as the justification for the syllable, since the syllable is its domain.

  5. 5.

    In this paper, we use the term ‘stem’ to refer to the constituent made up of the verb root plus realis or irrealis prefix (which may or may not be analyzable synchronically), following Macaulay (1996).

  6. 6.

    An anonymous reviewer pointed out that this word may have come into Mixtec via Nahuatl (Nordell 1984:10).

  7. 7.

    It is not the case that all original SVPV sequences have undergone syncope and prothesis in Alcozauca Mixtec; there are forms such as si3ti2 ‘intestines’, ʃi1ko1 ‘smell’. This difference may be because this sound change is in progress: some forms have already undergone these processes while others have not.

  8. 8.

    This syncope appears to be barely motivated. It is syncope of /a/ (or /i/), a sonorous vowel, in the tonic syllable (in the case of disyllabic forms), which is unexpected (Gouskova 2003:Ch. 4). An alternative to *SVP is to attribute syncope to general economy constraint *V (Hartkemeyer 2000) in conjunction with a constraint limiting the onset to a sibilant-plosive sequences, which is crosslinguistically common (Goad 2011). However, as Gouskova (2003:Ch. 2) points out, and as will be discussed in Sect. 6.3, economy constraints such as *V should be excluded from the Con. In addition, as was stated in the previous footnote, since not all the forms with the SVPV sequence have undergone syncope + prothesis, *SVP is best considered an indexed constraint (Bye 2007).

  9. 9.

    This constraint is a combination of Max-IO(C), which requires that the input consonants are maximized in the output and Ident-IO(CF) which requires that output correspondents of consonants have identical feature values. Violation of the Max-IO(C) component of this cover constraint in the root necessarily entails violation of Maxroot, as in (31c) and (31d).

  10. 10.

    An anonymous reviewer pointed out that in some varieties such as in Ixpantepec Nieves Mixtec there are forms such as intya̱a̱n ‘tomorrow’ (Carroll 2015:112), where the pre-foot syllable with no onset does not undergo syncope, even though the resulting onset cluster would be licit and thus syncope is expected with this ranking. However, its cognate in Alcozauca Mixtec has indeed lost the pre-foot syllable: ca1ã1 ‘tomorrow’, thus supporting the ranking here. There are still very few cases of pre-foot, word-initial vowels as in i3sa4a3 ‘day after tomorrow’, the initial vowel of which cannot be elided even in casual speech; at this point we do not know the factors which determine the maintenance and deletion of such vowels.

  11. 11.

    The difference from accounting for the allomorphy by postulating only ni1- in the input with the deletion of segments in certain contexts is that in such an analysis the allomorph Ø1- would incur violation of Max, while listing both allomorphs in the input does not violate this constraint, even when the zero allomorph is selected.

  12. 12.

    An anonymous reviewer wondered if a more general Maxroot constraint eliminates such a candidate. However, in Sect. 4 it was established that Maxroot dominates Parse(μ) in careful speech while the ranking is reversed in casual speech. This predicts that candidate (62c) would be optimal in casual speech, which is not the case.

  13. 13.

    When the stem ends in a tone other than tone 4, as in (72), this stem tone is deleted when a monomoraic diphthong is formed, rather than forming a contour tone; generally, contour tones are restricted to the first mora of the foot in Alcozauca Mixtec (Sect. 3.2). This fact also supports the analysis that oe is monomoraic, rather than bimoraic.

  14. 14.

    Tighter integration of vowel-initial postposed morphemes, in contrast to the exclusion of consonant-initial morphemes, is also reported in other languages, such as in Tani languages (Post 2017), Catalan, and Alemanic dialects (Bergmann 2018; Caro Reina 2019:Ch. 2).

  15. 15.

    According to Anderson (2005:55), the difference between the structures in (84a) and (84b) is due the different rankings of constraints responsible for the organization into prosodic constituents: NonRecursive(PWd), Exhaustivity(PWd) » Prosodic Faithfulness for (84a) and Prosodic Faithfulness » Exhaustivity(PPh) » NonRecursive(PWd) for (84b). Thus, the difference between the V-initial and C-initial enclitics could be accounted for by two Cophonologies which differ in the constraint rankings. Alternatively, assuming that an onsetless syllable is dispreferred except for in the foot-medial position (expressed here as Onset), and that this constraint prohibits the V-initial enclitics from forming the structure in (84b), the behaviors of both types of enclitics may be captured by a single ranking with the ranking Onset dominating other constraints.

  16. 16.

    Here, following the suggestion made by an anonymous reviewer, we assume that diphthongs and glide formation are distinct. In a diphthong, both vowels are associated with a mora, although it might be a single shared mora, while in glide formation, the vowel is no longer associated with a mora (cf. Rosenthall 1994, 1997).

  17. 17.

    An alternative is to consider that this is due to Onset, which requires onset in all syllables. Employing such a constraint would require a positional faithfulness such as Ident-σ1(F) (Beckman 1998:56), in this case preventing the word-initial syllables to delete a vowel or insert a consonant to achieve the ideal CV structure (cf. Casali 1997; Beckman 1998), since word-initial onset-less syllables are allowed. Here we opt for NoHiatus, which is understood to be a conjunction of Onset and a positional faithfulness constraint.

  18. 18.

    An anonymous reviewer points out that this constraint does not reflect the frequency and co-occurrence or distributional asymmetries found in modern varieties, which favor the ‘outer triangle’ vowels (cf. Sect. 3.1), and that it does not fit the trend in Mixtec sound change for ‘inner triangle’ vowels to merge with ‘outer triangle’ vowels described in Josserand (1983:270–272). However, a coherent synchronic account is hard to achieve without a constraint Max-Vmid.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Ryan Bennett and three anonymous reviewers and the editors of Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, especially the Associate Editor Michael Kenstowicz, for their invaluable comments and suggestions which improved the paper significantly. We would also like to acknowledge the speaker of Tu’un Savi (Mixtec) in the community of Alcozauca de Guerrero for their collaboration. This project has been funded by the Institute of Philological Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the project PAPIIT-IN404019, Complejidad paradigmática y tonal de las lenguas otomangues, National Autonomous University of Mexico, awarded to the first author.

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Uchihara, H., Mendoza Ruiz, J. Minimality, maximality and perfect prosodic word in Alcozauca Mixtec. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-021-09517-y

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Keywords

  • Mixtec
  • Prosodic morphology
  • Prosodic phonology
  • Minimality
  • Maximality