A corpus-based approach to Tahltan stress

John Alderete, Tanya Bob

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to document and refine hypotheses concerning stress in Tahltan (Northern Athabaskan). An analysis of the field data collected in 1980-83 by Patricia A. Shaw (University of British Columbia) reveals a set of correlations between stress assignment and the morphological and phonological composition of a string. Morphology affects stress in that the syllable dominating the morphological stem is obligatorily stressed. Following McCarthy & Prince’s 1994 analysis of Diyari stress, this fact is analyzed by requiring the left edge of every stem to coincide with the left edge of the prosodic word, which effectively makes the stem a separate stress domain. Stress on non-stem syllables is assigned on alternating syllables counting from the stem stress, with a stress clash in words in which only one syllable precedes the stem. These phonological generalizations are handled by assigning trochaic feet from left-to-right in a fashion that respects the Stem-to-ProsodicWord alignment principle and other constraints on metrical structure, i.e., Foot Binarity and Strict Layering. Exceptions to this analysis are also identified in the corpus, and they are shown to follow straightforwardly from minimal modifications of the assumptions that explain the core data.

Keywords: Tahltan, Athapaskan, metrical stress, trochaic foot, morphological stress, variation

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Full citation: Alderete, John and Tanya Bob. 2005. A corpus-based approach to Tahltan stress. In Sharon Hargus & Keren Rice (eds.), Athabaskan prosody, pp. 369-391. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.