Loquens, Vol 3, No 2 (2016)

Metrically conditioned pitch and layered feet in Chugach Alutiiq


Violeta Martínez-Paricio
Universitat de València, Spain

René Kager
Utrecht University, Netherlands


This article presents a reanalysis of the foot-based phonology of Chugach Alutiiq (henceforth CA), a language that displays a complex mixed ternary–binary rhythm, as well as metrically conditioned distributions of pitch, fortition and vowel lengthening. Elaborating on earlier analyses of CA that had posited some kind of ternary constituent (Hewitt, 1991, 1992; Leer, 1985a, 1985b, 1985c; Rice, 1992), we propose CA should be analyzed by means of the Internally Layered Ternary (ILT) foot, a minimal recursive foot (Prince, 1980; Selkirk, 1980), which was recently revived in a typological study of binary–ternary stress (Martínez-Paricio & Kager, 2015). It will be argued that ILT feet capture CA’s puzzling dual behavior of unstressed and stressed syllables straightforwardly by referring to the status of syllables as heads or dependents of minimal or non-minimal feet. After showing the value of ILT feet in the analysis of CA rhythmic and segmental patterns, we turn to our analytical focus, the distributions of high and low pitch. This distribution is arguably metrically conditioned, yet an analysis based on stress or standard binary feet cannot capture it, whereas the ILT approach can. To highlight the advantages of our approach, we end by offering brief comparisons with previous analyses of CA.


metrical phonology; phonological representations; ternary stress; metrically conditioned pitch

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