Dissertation defense: The Phonetics and Phonology of Abkhaz Word Stress

Sammy Andersson
Event time: 
Friday, September 22, 2023 - 12:15pm to 1:30pm
Dow Hall room 201 (LingSem) See map
Event description: 
Stress is a common example of suprasegmental phonology, since stress assignment makes reference to prosodic units like syllables rather than individual segments. In my dissertation I question the segmental/suprasegmental dichotomy by arguing that Abkhaz (Northwest Caucasian) has a segmental stress system. I present new phonetic and phonological data from experiments, corpus studies, phonotactics, and metrics to explore theories of word stress in Abkhaz. I argue that the vowel [ə] is fully predictable, which leads to many morphemes lacking vowels underlyingly. These vowelless morphemes participate in a complex system of stress alternations, where they behave just like morphemes with underlying vowels. Independent evidence shows that none of the consonants in vowelless morphemes are syllabic, and I argue that stress is assigned with reference to individual consonants and vowels without any involvement of prosodic units. This raises the question of how and where to draw boundaries between segmental and suprasegmental phonology.
Event Type: 
Lunch Talks