LINGUIST List 14.1113

Tue Apr 15 2003

Diss: Phonology: Keane "Echo words in Tamil"

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  1. elinor.keane, Phonology: Keane "Echo words in Tamil"

Message 1: Phonology: Keane "Echo words in Tamil"

Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 04:57:46 +0000
From: elinor.keane <>
Subject: Phonology: Keane "Echo words in Tamil"

Institution: University of Oxford
Program: Phonetics Laboratory
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Elinor Keane 

Dissertation Title: Echo words in Tamil

Linguistic Field: Phonology, Phonetics, Morphology 

Subject Language: Tamil (code: TCV )

Dissertation Director 1: John Coleman

Dissertation Abstract: 

Echo words are characteristic of colloquial speech throughout the
Indian subcontinent. They exhibit segment-changing reduplication: the
introduction of fixed segments to a repeated string or reduplicant. A
Tamil example is maaTu kiiTu, formed from the base maaTu 'cow' and
meaning 'cattle in general'. This thesis establishes the phonetic,
phonological and morphological properties of such formations in Tamil,
and investigates the consequences for theories of
reduplication. Chapter 1 surveys developments in theoretical
treatments of reduplication in general and segment-changing
reduplication in particular. A new 'dual description' analysis is
proposed, in which the reduplicant is defined by two descriptions, one
the full description of the base, the other a partial description of
the reduplicant, which can specify both prosodic structure and fixed

Chapter 2 defines echo words in relation to other types of
reduplicated expression, and reviews what is known about their
properties in other Indian languages, including results of some
original research on Hindi. Chapter 3 reports on the morphological
constituency of Tamil echo words, from the responses of native
speakers to a questionnaire. This was designed to explore which
lexical categories can be echoed, the interaction of echoing with
inflection and compounding, and the possibility of echo
phrases. Acoustic analysis was used to investigate prosodic structure
by considering stress placement and the distribution of different
obstruent realizations. Chapter 4 provides the first experimental
confirmation of differences in vowel quality and duration that can be
associated with stress on an initial syllable, and concludes that the
echo words bear a single stress.

The final chapter applies the dual description model to the Tamil
data, and discusses how the phonological, morphological and syntactic
aspects of echoing can be synthesized. In particular, the significance
of phrasal echoing is discussed, not only for theories of
reduplication but also the structure of the grammar.
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