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Words, Phrases, Pauses and Boundaries: Evidence from South American Indian Languages

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This paper discusses the phonological properties of words and phrases in two Northern Arawak languages of the Upper Rio Negro, Brazil. These features are h-prosody, vowel harmony triggered by the glottal fricative h, vowel nasalization and vowel diphthongization. A feature that is used to mark a word in one language may mark a phrase in the other. There is a regular interdependence between morphemes and syllables.
The most unusual characteristic of the languages is the existence of pausal forms which mark phrase-final and utterance-final boundaries. The phonological character of pause marking devices, viewed cross-linguistically, contradicts a wide-spread assumption about the entirely phonetic realization of pauses.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1996

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  • International Journal sponsored by the Foundation "Foundations of Language"

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