Non-modal voice quality in Chichimeco - "Hablamos más con la garganta"

University essay from Lunds universitet/Masterprogram: Språk och språkvetenskap

Abstract: In this thesis, the phonetics and the phonology of non-modal voice quality and other glottal features in Chichimeco (Oto-Manguean, Mexico) are described. For this investigation, I analysed recordings I made in Mexico in spring 2017 as well as recordings enclosed in Lastra (2009b, 2016). Descriptions of this language have been published since the 1930s but non-modal phonation has not received the attention it deserves. Only recently, the first proper phonetic/phonological account of breathy voice was published (Herrera 2014). In this thesis, I corroborate Herrera's analysis of breathy voice as a phonological category /V̤/, taking into account tone. Furthermore, I propose the phonological status of creaky voice /V̰/ as distinct from a sequence of modal vowel and final glottal stop /VɁ/. Additionally, I confirm that Chichimeco simultaneously implements phonological non-modal voice quality and tone. Therefore, this language classifies as laryngeally complex. Non-modal voice quality is mostly expressed towards the end of the vowel and the measures H1'-A1', H1'-A3' and CPP seem to best characterise the three phonation categories. H1'-H2' seems to only distinguish creaky voice from non-creaky voice. No conclusive interactions with tone were found concerning these acoustic measures. By investigating the distribution of creaky and breathy voice, I argue that these categories are related to a bigger phenomenon of glottalisation, i.e. to glottal, glottalised and aspirated consonants. These sounds generally only occur in the stressed syllable. Moreover, restrictions of their co-occurrence are related to syllable structure. Both of these facts indicate a prosodic governing of laryngeal features in this language. This investigation represents new data in the growing research on the phonetics and the phonology of non-modal voice quality, as well as a further example of a laryngeally complex language. The analysis of the distribution of glottals reveals interesting connections between glottalised and aspirated vowels and consonants. Thereby, it can contribute to the theoretical phonological characterisation of laryngeal features. Finally, this investigation expands the description of Chichimeco phonology and can ultimately be used in the improvement of the orthography of the language.

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