english french

MamP 2009-2014 > Modeling and Diasystems > articles > « Voyelles réarticulé...

« Voyelles réarticulées en tseltal (maya occidental) : pertinence d'une approche dialectologique et expérimentale pour la typologie phonologique » (2011)

En collaboration avec Cédric Gendrot (UMR 7018) et Gilles Polian (Ciesas Sureste), Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris, pp. 395-449

The ALTO project (in Spanish, A Linguistic Atlas of Western Tseltal) provides new data on the dialectal variation in Tseltal – a Western Mayan language spoken in the Chiapas Highlands (South West Mexico). ALTO addresses a wide array of phonological, inflectional and lexical issues in Tseltal. In this study, we analyze rearticulated vowels (VhV, V’V), elicited from two speakers in each of the seventeen areas which make up the dialectal network where Tseltal is currently spoken. Beyond the dialectal areas that seem prevalent on the linguistic evolution of rearticulated vowels, the main classes of realizations of these complex nuclei are described according to a scale of neutralization ranging from the rearticulation to the simplification of the complex syllable nuclei. These classes of phenomena highlight (in terms of structural complexity and areal distribution) the structural properties of the s.c. rearticulated or interrupted vowels, particularly marked in languages across the world. Acoustic measures of the duration, harmonic-to-noise ratio, spectral center of gravity, fundamental frequency (F0) and formants (F1-F3) are detailed according to cardinal levels of vowel aperture (low versus high). The results show that rearticulated vowels tend to be extra-long, that the hiatus slot is not characterized by any specific place of articulation, and that rearticulation does not involve any modification of formants nor F0 patterns on nuclei. The results also show that asymmetric properties may be found between low and high rearticulated vowels, as well as between degrees of neutralization for both subclasses of complex nuclei (VhV versus V’V). The authors conclude that rearticulated vowels have generic properties that make them closer to long vowels than to ‘tautosyllabic hiatus’. However, this categorization still has to be further investigated insofar as rearticulated vowels, according to the dialectal varieties and speakers’ interpretation of phonological patterns in complex nuclei, tend to be realized either as a hiatus with glide insertion, a vowel chain with inner onset, or as simple long or short vowels. They turn out to qualify less properly as interrupted or rearticulated vowels than as a transitional class between long vowels and hiatus.