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Case and pronominal suffixes in Sierra Miwok

Cathlin Davis

Ph.D. Thesis, 2002


This dissertation shows that seeming irregularities in the phonology and morphology of Sierra Miwok (divided into the languages Southern Sierra Miwok, Central Sierra Miwok, and Northern Sierra Miwok) arise from the interaction of the two grammatical components. Separately, the phonology and morphology are in fact consistent. There are two apparently unique morphological phenomena in the Sierra Miwok inflectional suffixes. First, a subset of the case suffixes are obligatorily followed by a second case morpheme. Case suffixes divide into two groups: grammatical (nominative, accusative, temporal, vocative, and genitive) and semantic (ablative, allative, locative, and instrumental). The semantic cases are obligatorily followed by an grammatical suffix, most often nominative. However, the second case suffix is not always overtly present. Second, certain possessive suffixes surface before the case morpheme, though the other possessives occur after case. This is due to a rule of morpheme metathesis. Unlike other forms of metathesis where single segments reverse their order, here an entire morpheme reverses order with the previous morpheme. Metathesis only applies to possessive suffixes with the pattern CCV. The first consonant in the suffix cannot be immediately syllabified and a light syllable is not allowed word-finally, which is where the suffix occurs underlyingly. Both the word-final environment and the CCV pattern together trigger the metathesis. In addition to the metathesis, there are three rules involved in building syllable structure after morphological concatenation: epenthesis, incorporation, and deletion. Epenthesis inserts a vowel after an unsyllabified consonant, creating a syllable. No epenthesis is allowed within a morpheme. Additional unsyllabified segments are either incorporated or deleted. The difference between the languages is due to a difference in the order of application of these rules.

Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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