Aspects of Pit River phonology

Bruce Edwin Nevin, University of Pennsylvania


Until recently, it has seemed that the Pit River language (“Achumawi”) was reasonably well documented by de Angulo & Freeland (1930), Uldall (1933), and Olmsted (1956, 1957, 1959, 1964, 1966). My own fieldwork in 1970–74 disclosed fundamental inadequacies of these publications, as reported in Nevin (1991). We substantiate this finding, investigate its probable bases, and establish why my own data are not subject to the same difficulties. After this cautionary tale about the perils of restating a published grammar, we define a phonemic representation for utterances in the language and introduce Optimality Theory (OT). We then apply OT to a series of problems in the phonological patterning of the language: features of syllable codas, restrictions and alternations involving voiceless release and aspiration, and reduplicative morphology. Appendix A describes the physiology and phonetics of laryngeal phenomena in Pit River, especially epiglottal articulation that has in the past been improperly described as pharyngeal or involving the tongue radix (the feature RTR). Appendix B discusses certain ramifications of aperture features for the sonority hierarchy.

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Recommended Citation

Nevin, Bruce Edwin, "Aspects of Pit River phonology" (1998). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9913504.