Tatiana Reid
Thu 02 Jun 2016, 13:10 - 14:00
Room 1.08, 24 Buccleuch Place

If you have a question about this talk, please contact: James Kirby (jkirby1)

Morphological operations in the Western Nilotic language Nuer are realised through an exceptionally rich set of morphological devices, involving both affixation and stem modifications. Stem modifications in particular contribute to the complexity of the system, as they involve several interlocking processes subject to distinct morphophonological, paradigmatic and lexical generalizations. We distinguish four types:

(i) vowel length alternations (a three-way phonemic length contrast) 

gwʌ̀r-í ‘you (SG) grind something’
gwʌ̀ʌr ‘grind (NEG)’
gwʌ̀ʌʌr-í ‘you (SG) grind’

(ii) vowel mutations (voice quality, vowel quality alternations and diphthongisation) 

léb-à̤̀ ‘I open something for someone’
lè̤̤̌b-ì ‘you (SG) open something for someone'
lɛ̀ab-à̤̤́ ‘I open something’
lɛ̀b-í ‘you (SG) open something'

(iii) tonal alternations

ɟèɦ-à̤̤́ ‘I find something’
ɟéɦ-ɛ̀ ‘you (PL) find something’

(iv) stem-final consonant alternations

ɟèg-ɛ̀ ‘s/he gather something’
ɟèɦ-ɛ̀ ‘you (PL) gather something’

Using recently collected data, we analyse these morphophonological alternations on the basis of their role in verb inflection and derivation. Throughout the presentation we provide extensive sound examples, in particular illustrating such typologically rare phenomena as a three-way vowel length and a two-way voice quality distinctions.