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Understanding the adjacency of nasal oralization and stress in Karitiâna

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Nasal consonants in Karitiâna surface in a typologically-remarkable variety of ways. For instance, the word /kina/, 'thing', may surface as [kinda], [kidnda], or [kida], i.e. as a post-oralized, circum-oralized, or completely oralized phone. Such extreme variation is constrained by word-level stress, however, since for all tokens recorded nasal resonants must be separated from stressed oral vowels by a segment of oralization. This is evident in the word for 'thing', which like most Karitiåna words contains word-final stress. The author presents an acoustically-oriented treatment of the motivation of this constraint on the nasal patterns, suggesting that the constraint is best understood in the light of the basic perceptual correlates of stressed vowels in the language. Such vowels are characterized by more positive spectral tilt and peripheralization in the F1-F2 plane. Since these two characteristics would be obfuscated by nasalization, Karitiâna phonology requires the noted adjacency of nasal oralization and stressed oral vowels.
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Keywords: Amazonian; Karitiâna; Tupí; acoustic; nasality; spectral tilt; stress; velum

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • This publication consists of the proceedings of the main session and any parasessions from the annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society.
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