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On the distribution and representation of schwa in Sliammon (Salish) : descriptive and theoretical perspectives Blake, Susan Jane

Abstract

The goals of this dissertation are two-fold. My first major goal is descriptive, to contribute to the documentation of the Central Coast Salish language spoken by the Shammon, Klahoose and Homalco peoples. The primary source of data is my field notes collected from 1988 through 2000in consultation with Elders resident in Sliammon, B.C. My second major goal is theoretical, to deepen our understanding of the distribution and representation of schwa in Shammon. Schwa, often characterized as a brief "neutral" vowel with special properties cross-linguistically, is central to an understanding of Sliammon phonology andmorphology. In Chapter 2, it is hypothesized that schwa is featureless, and that it acquires its surface realization via colouration from adjacent consonants and vowels. The focus of Chapter 3 is on the prosodic structure of the language, and the independent hypothesis that schwa is also weightless. These generalizations are presented within the Nuclear Moraic Model of Shaw (1993, 1996).Chapter 4 focuses on schwa-zero alternations. Schwa is proposed to be non-lexical, and schwa epenthesis satisfies the constraint Proper Headedness which requires that a Foot contains a syllable which is headed by a vocalic Nucleus. Schwa epenthesis also satisfies the ban on stem-initial consonant clusters. This chapter also provides evidence that Full Vowel Reduction involves the loss of phonological weight (i.e. a mora). The output of Full Vowel Reduction is distinct from schwa in its featural representation, but identical to schwa in its prosodic representation. Although schwa epenthesis is driven by the constraints on Proper Headedness, there is also evidence that Shammon has a number of strategies which conspire to avoid schwa in stressed open syllables. Chapter 5 brings together different cases of this, and shows that they receive a unified explanation with reference to the constraint *ә́]σ, and its interaction with other constraints. Chapter 6 addresses two cases in which schwa epenthesis is systematically avoided: (i) the possessive -hV suffix and (ii) the plural /L'-/ prefix. Chapter 7 provides a synopsis of the descriptive and theoretical claims of the dissertation. Appendices IV-VII contribute to the basic documentation of Sliammon including: Consonant Contrasts, Root List, Lexical Suffixes, and Affixes/Clitics.

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