The colon as a separate prosodic category: Tonal evidence from Paicî (Oceanic, New Caledonia)
Florian Lionnet
October 2018
 

Most recent work in metrical theory rejects the colon (κ) —a constituent intermediate between the foot and the prosodic word and made of two feet: σσσσ→(σσ)Ft(σσ)Ft →{(σσ)Ft(σσ)Ft}κ— as a separate category in the Prosodic Hierarchy (PH: μ→σ→Ft→κ→PrWd), arguing that it is unnecessary and too costly (e.g. Ellenbaas and Kager 1999; Hyde 2002; Martínez-Paricio and Kager 2015, 2016, a.o.). I analyze an unusual downstep pattern in Paicî (Oceanic) and show that the most satisfying account of this pattern involves reference to the colon. Paicî is a two-tone language (H vs. L), where L-toned words of 4+ morae undergo register lowering after the second mora (/μ̀μ̀μ̀μ̀/ → [μ̀μ̀!μ̀μ̀]). This downstep does not occur with shorter words. I show that the two initial morae of 4μ+ words are parsed into a bimoraic foot. Crucially, no foot is parsed in 2μ or 3μ words. I argue that foot-parsing can only occur if it creates feet that are licensed by a colon (hence the need for at least 4μ), making the Paicî downstep pattern the first piece of tonal evidence in favor of the colon.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004265
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in WCCFL 36 Proceedings
keywords: metrical phonology, prosodic hierarchy, foot, colon, downstep, tone, phonology
previous versions: v1 [October 2018]
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