Fieldwork (Lachirioag Zapotec)

Verbal prefixes

My MA thesis provided a general description of the verbal morphology found in Lachirioag Zapotec, with a particular focus on the verbal TAM prefixes and the argument enclitics. Currently, I am continuing my investigation into the verbal prefixes with focus on two main questions:

  1. What conditions the allomorphy displayed by the irrealis and perfective prefixes?
  2. What is the semantic information conveyed by the TAM prefixes?

Acoustics of the fortis/lenis contrast

Collaborator(s): Lily Xu

Zapotec languages are described as having a fortis/lenis contrast for both obstruent and sonorant consonants. Despite the name, the two classes of consonants have been found to be primarily distinguished by duration in other Zapotec languages. Our preliminary results support the previous findings, and additionally find voicing to be a significant acoustic correlate for obstruents. We are currently gathering more data, and hope that our results will provide us a better understanding of how the fortis/lenis contrast in Zapotec fits in the larger typology of laryngeal contrasts.


Acquisition of non-local phonotactic dependencies

Collaborator(s): Megha Sundara

Sundara et al.’s (2022) meta-analysis on phonotactic acquisition found that infants display sensitivity to vowel harmony before any other local or non-local phonotactic dependency. This is despite the fact that non-local dependencies are reportedly more difficult to learn than local dependencies. We are currently planning a series of experiments to investigate two main questions:

  1. Is the early sensitivity that infants display for VH due to its perceptual saliency?
  2. Does experience with VH facilitate infants' learning of more arbitrary non-local dependencies?

Non-concatenative morphological priming in Semitic languages

Collaborator(s): Lily Xu, Huilei Wang, & Megha Sundara

We are using Bayesian meta-analysis to investigate morphological priming effects in Arabic and Hebrew. Semitic languages are well-known for their extensive non-concatenative “root-template” morphology; most Semitic words can be decomposed into a consonantal root carrying the main lexical semantics and a prosodic template associated with morphosyntactic information. We are using the aggregate data points to look at the status of root and template morphology in the adult grammar.