Man-Bear Travels to Hell
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.