SRPP: Final obstruent voicing in Lakota: Phonetic evidence and phonological implications

Ander Egurtzegi (CNRS – IKER UMR-5478, Bayonne)
11 juin 2021, 14h0015h30

Final obstruent voicing in Lakota: Phonetic evidence and phonological implications
Juliette Blevins (The Graduate Center, CUNY), Ander Egurtzegi (CNRS – IKER UMR-5478) & J. Ullrich (The Language Conservancy)

Final obstruent devoicing is a common sound pattern in the world’s languages, found in a wide range of languages including Catalan, Dutch, Lithuanian, and Zaza (Blevins 2006; Iverson & Salmons 2011). This sound pattern constitutes a clear case of parallel or convergent phonological evolution. In contrast, final obstruent voicing is claimed to be extremely rare, with some approaches explicitly predicting its non-existence (Kiparsky 2006, 2008). In contrast, phonetic-historical accounts explain skewed patterns of voicing in terms of common phonetically-based devoicing tendencies, allowing for rare cases of final-obstruent voicing under special conditions (Blevins 2006, 2015).

In this talk, phonetic and phonological evidence is offered for final-obstruent voicing in Lakota, an indigenous Siouan language of the Great Plains of North America. In Lakota, oral stops /p/, /t/, and /k/, are regularly pronounced as [b], [l], and [ɡ] in word- and syllable-final position when phrase-final devoicing and pre-obstruent devoicing do not occur (e.g. tópa ‘four’, tób ‘four (cont.)’, tóbtopa ‘by fours’). We first present a phonetic study that tests whether /p/ and /k/ show phonetic voicing in syllable-final position as well as properties of oral stops, in order to rule out interpretations of voicing as a secondary feature of lenition. Then, we offer a historical account of this unlikely sound pattern of final stop voicing, and an explanation for its rarity: final voicing is a consequence of an earlier, conditioned intervocalic voicing of *p, *t, *k to [b], [d], [ɡ], preserved only when the final vowel was devoiced or lost. Under this account, the historical origins for final stop voicing are tied to retiming of the final vowel gesture.

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