Vowels and stress in Chichicastenango K'iche'




Wood, Elizabeth Anne

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This papers presents an exploration of the vowel inventory and patterns of stress and vowel deletion in the phonologically innovative variety of K’iche’ (Eastern Mayan) spoken in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. The vowel inventory (vowel quality and duration) is investigated through an acoustic production study. Results suggest that this dialect has five peripheral vowels /a e i o u/ and four or five centralized vowels /ə ɛ (ɪ) ɔ ʊ/. The vowel /ɪ/ may be merging with surrounding phonemes. There are not consistent duration differences between the peripheral and centralized vowels. The stress pattern is investigated through a database of polysyllabic forms collected from elicitation and texts, where the most prominent syllable in each word is determined impressionistically by the author. The preliminary results discussed here suggest that stress falls on the final syllable in non-verbs, but falls according to a hierarchy of syllable weights in verbs, where peripheral vowels are heavier than centralized vowels and closed syllables heavier than open syllables. Vowel deletion is investigated through the same database of polysyllabic forms, as well as additional textual materials. Results indicate that deletion in content words appears to be restricted to unstressed centralized vowels in non-final CV syllables. Deletion in function words appears to be less restricted. This study significantly expands the understanding of vowels and stress in Chichicastenango K’iche’, building on previous descriptions and raising new questions for future research.



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