Date of Award
Master of Arts
AN ABSTRACT ON THE THESIS OFJose Benavides Pantoja, for the Master of Arts degree in Linguistics presented on April 30, 2020, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: PHONETIC VARIATION IN KAMËNTS̈Á: AN ANALYSIS OF STOPS AND AFFRICATESMAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Karen Baertsch This study contributes to the limited body of research concerned with documenting and studying the minority and indigenous languages of the world. More specifically, it focuses on Kamënts̈á, a language isolate spoken by less than 500 people in southern Colombia. According to UNESCO (2003), this language has been categorized as “definitely endangered” which makes its documentation even more critical. Although there have been initial investigations undertaken by Juajibioy, Howard, and McDowell, the scarce accessible research has relied on purely impressionistic reviews of the language, leading to unreliable conclusions and descriptions of the language. This thesis constitutes the first phonetic acoustic analysis of Kamënts̈á language in order to substantiate what has been described in the current literature. Additionally, the geographic location where Kamënts̈á emerged, together with Spanish, and Inga Kichwa has proven to be an intriguing sociohistorical and linguistic landscape for the study of these languages being an area worth of investigating. Given that there is no existing documentation of language variation in the language, the primary goal of this thesis is to analyze the production of plosive and affricate segments at a word-level to examine language variation at a phonetic level. Considering that Kamënts̈á has been poorly documented, it was not surprising for differences in the production to be found. One difference fell in the phonemic status of the segment between younger and older speakers of the language. The production of the segments in three linguistic environments at word-level attested for variation of some phonemes. For this study, data were collected from two experimental tasks. For the first task, eight Kamënts̈á-Spanish bilinguals (N=8) were recorded producing words in isolation in a word-elicitation exercise. The purpose of this task was to gather raw data on the production of the segments at word level. For the second task, the consultants were asked to take a sociolinguistic questionnaire. This instrument was designed to account for the linguistic ethnography and language ecology of the Kamënts̈á. The purpose of this task was also to tie sociolinguistic data from the speakers with any phonemic differences in the realization of the segments. Results supported the VOT framework proposed by Lisker and Abramson (1964) as an effective metric to measure the voicing status of plosives. For the analysis of affricates, the center of gravity and spectral peak location demonstrated accurate acoustic correlates to capture frication in the phonemes. Equally, amplitude provided valuable information for the analysis of prenasalization. What is more, consistent resemblances were found comparing Kamënts̈á with other studies regarding the acoustic cues, place and manner of articulation, and voicing status of the phonemes.
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