31 January 2016

UMass at BLS

The 42nd meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society meets February 5-7 at UC, Berkeley. Joe Pater is one of the invited speakers — he is giving the talk “Learning in Typological Prediction: Grammatical Agent-Based modeling.” UMass is also represented by:

Alumnus Michael Becker, who is giving (with Honaida Ahyad) the talk “The predictability of vowel alternations in Urban Hijazi Arabic imperfective nonce forms” and (with Paola Cepeda) the talk “Sonority restricts laryngealized plosives in Southern Aymara"

Kristine Yu and Deniz Ozyildiz who are giving the talk “Emergence of tonal absolutive Case marking in Samoan.” (The abstract is at the end of this post.)

For more information, go here.

Emergence of tonal absolutive Case marking in Samoan

In Samoan, it appears that absolutive arguments are marked by a tonal case morpheme: A high tone (H-), aligned with the final mora of the phonological material preceding the argument. We propose that H- emerges from the segmental elision of the absolutive preposition `ia,' and the reassociation of ia's pitch accent with the left adjacent tone bearing unit. Indeed, absolutive H- and ia have similar distributions. Moreover, ia is sometimes so reduced that only a pitch accent remains of its exponence. Ergative and oblique case marking is not tonal. These segmental morphemes are monomoraic and unstressed, hence unable to provide a source tone, even when reduced.