Ket Prosodic Phonology
Edward J. Vajda
Western Washington University
The present study proposes a complete inventory of the segmental and suprasegmental phonemic units for the southern dialect of Ket, a language isolate spoken in Central Siberia. It argues that Ket contains a constrastive system of tones operating within the domain of the phonological word rather than the syllable. This word tone system consists of four tonemes, two of which have disyllabic and monosyllabic allotones.
Tone in Ket serves to delimit one word from another by marking the leftmost two syllables of each phonological word with one of four contrastive combinations of melodic (height and contour) and non-melodic features (vowel length and glottalization). In addition, the four tonemes distinguish meaning by forming numerous minimal pairs. The article describes Ket segmental phonology as containing only 12 consonant and 7 vowel phonemes. Many constrasts which previous researchers treated as phonemic (such as the difference between tense vs. lax mid vowels and plosives vs. fricatives in word final position) turn out to be allophonic when prosodic data are considered.
ISBN 9783895869150. Languages of the World 15. 28pp. 2000.