Aspects of the Phonological Description of a Cahuilla Narrative
University of Bonn
Cahuilla is a critically moribund Native American language spoken in Inland Southern California. It is a member of the Uto-Aztecan language phylum, widespread in Western North and Central America. Within Uto-Aztecan, Cahuilla is classified as a part of the Takic language family, limited to Southern California. Today, it is the only Takic language still spoken as a mother tongue. Cahuilla is generally considered to have three dialectal variants (Desert, Mountain, and Pass). While the Desert variant has been the subject of some scientific consideration in the past, the other dialects have received less attention.
«Man-Bear Travels to Hell» serves as the presentation of a morphologically analyzed Mountain Cahuilla narrative about the ‘Were-Bear’, an intriguing motive in Native North American mythology. The text was originally elicited in the 1930s by the renowned field linguist John Peabody Harrington (1884-1961). With the presentation of «Man-Bear Travels to Hell», an extensive linguistically annotated Cahuilla text is published for the first time. It is also the first time that materials taken from the substantial corpus of Harrington’s Cahuilla notes are opened to public. In this connection, basic issues in the phonological description of the language are discussed using data from the text. Addressed are problems concerning the principles of Cahuilla word stress assignment, the interdependency of word stress and vowel allophony, the status of ’thematic’ vowels (to a certain extent reflecting the stress patterns of Proto-Uto-Aztecan), the contrastive status of vowel length, the origin of Cahuilla palatoalveolar resonants, ʎ, ɲ, a form of compensatory CV prefixing reduplication, as well as the interpretive treatment of glottal stop infixation, operative in defined morphological contexts and partially serving mora augmentation. Besides, further selected issues of Cahuilla phonology and morphophonology are outlined. A simple descriptive approach is utilized, supplemented by comments on the interpretation of specific processes in a rule-based derivational framework or a constraint-based parallel framework.
«Man-Bear Travels to Hell» was developed within a research project for the documentation of Cahuilla, domiciled at the University of Bonn, Germany. In this context, selected excerpts of the narrative were subject to an intensive rehearing with Mountain Cahuilla informants. The study contains a renarration of the text including an outline of its ethnographic background, an index of the grammatical morphemes appearing in the text, as well as a full word index.
ISBN 9783895867866. Languages of the Word/Text Collections 27. 142pp. 2008.