Gabriela Caballero, UC San Diego

Stress and tone in Choguita Raramuri (Tarahumara) word prosody

Ongoing documentation of lesser studied languages reveals complex interactions between tone and stress-accent in word-prosodic systems, but it is yet to be discovered in which specific ways these interactions are manifested in individual languages (Hyman 2006, Pearce 2006). In this talk we present preliminary results from our investigation of the word-prosodic system of Choguita Rarámuri, a Uto-Aztecan language of northern Mexico which displays both stress-accent and tone with complex morphological conditioning. While the closely related Cahitan languages have been documented to possess culminative word prominence involving both stress and a privative tonal contrast (Demers et al. 1999, Hagberg 1989), no variety of Rarámuri had been described as featuring lexical tone. On the basis of phonological evidence and a detailed acoustic investigation, we propose that: i) stress-accent and tone are distinctive, independent systems in CR in terms of their acoustic encoding; ii)  both stress-accent and tone are governed in their distribution and makeup by lexical and morphological conditions; iii) the tone system features a contrast between /H/ ([HL]), /L/ ([L]) and /Ø/ ([M]) which is exclusively realized in stressed syllables; and iv) the dependency of tone on metrical structure is further demonstrated by syllables which lose tonal contrasts when stress shifts to another syllable. Through a preliminary examination of the interaction between word-level prosodic contrasts and phrase-level prosody we provide further arguments for our hypothesis that the tone system involves tonal underspecification.