Chapter 5. The story of *ô in the Cariban Family

Publication Year:
2010
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Repository URL:
http://hdl.handle.net/10125/4452
Author(s):
Gildea, Spike; Hoff, B.J.; Meira, Sérgio
Tags:
Cariban; Proto-Cariban; reconstruction; comparative; phonology
book chapter description
This paper argues for the reconstruction of an unrounded mid central/back vowel *ô to Proto-Cariban. Recent comparative studies of the Cariban family encounter a consistent correspondence of ə : o : ɨ : e, tentatively reconstructed as *o2 (considering only pronouns; Meira 2002) and *ô (considering only seven languages; Meira & Franchetto 2005). The first empirical contribution of this paper is to expand the comparative database to twenty-one modern and two extinct Cariban languages, where the robustness of the correspondence is confirmed. In ten languages, *ô merges with another vowel, either *o or *ɨ. The second empirical contribution of this paper is to more closely analyze one apparent case of attested change from *ô > o, as seen in cognate forms from Island Carib and dialectal variation in Kari’nja (Carib of Surinam). Kari’nja words borrowed into Island Carib/Garífuna show a split between rounded and unrounded back vowels: rounded back vowels are reflexes of *o and *u, unrounded back vowels reflexes of *ô and *ɨ. Our analysis of Island Carib phonology was originally developed by Douglas Taylor in the 1960s, supplemented with unpublished Garifuna data collected by Taylor in the 1950s.