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Academic Paper

Title: An Investigation into the Morphophonemics of Bodo
Author: Priyankoo Sarmah
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati
Linguistic Field: Language Documentation; Phonology
Subject Language: Bodo
Subject LANGUAGE Family: Sino-Tibetan
Abstract: Bodo –one of the major Tibeto-Burman tone languages-is spoken in many parts of the Northeastern states of India as well as in parts of West Bengal and Nepal. /L//L/The morphophonemics of Bodo has been the subject of considerable discussion namely, Bhattacharya (1977) and Weidert (1987). /L//L/We argue that Bodo tones are lexical, hence not predictable as Weidert (1987) claims them to be. Moreover Bodo actually has a two-way tonal distinction namely H(igh) and L(ow), not three-way as claimed by Bhattacharya (1977) and the M(id) tone is considered to be a default tone. /L//L/In this study, we would like to assume a more complex system of morphophonemics in the language than either Weidert (1987) or Bhattacharya (1977). We notice at least five different types of tone assignment pattern in Bodo derived lexical items, for example, the plural suffixes –sōr and –phōr do not have inherent tonal specifications. But when they are attached to a stem, the stem is neutralized. The tonal specification of the stem is transferred to the suffixes. This type of alteration can be exemplified as below :/L/ /L/Hnōng + sōr--> MnōngHsōr (M and H are Mid and High tones)/L/"you (honorific, singular)+ sōr--> you (honorific, plural)"/L//L/The hypothesis in this paper is that:/L/Bodo derived words will follow the tone assignment pattern of Bodo disyllables, the rightmost syllable is specified with a tone, whereas, the initial syllable is assigned a mid default tone. /L//L/Since tones are neutralized in non-final syllables we predict the following:/L//L/a) Under prefixation, the prefix will acquire the default mid tone/L/b) Under suffixation, there are two possibilities:/L/ i) if the suffix is not inherently specified with a tone, the tonal specification of the stem will be transferred to the suffix and the stem will be assigned default, mid tone/L/ ii) if the suffix or clitic is inherently specified, the tone on the stem will be neutralized to the default mid tone./L//L/Following Lexical Phonology (Kiparsky, 1985), if we assume that these are two distinct levels of word formation in Bodo, namely level I and the word level, we may find that Level I usually behaves like non-derived words where every 'word' has a single tonal specification but word level affixation may relax the strict phonotactics of the earlier level (again as in English-contrast non-geminate 'innumerable' with double 'unnecessary') allowing tone copy. /L//L/Subjecting relevant data to speech analysis software we give spectrographic evidence to substantiate our findings in this paper.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: SALA 24, Stony Brook University
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