Nasal harmony in Awetí ‐ A declarative account

Drude, S. (2009). Nasal harmony in Awetí ‐ A declarative account. ReVEL - Revista Virtual de Estudos da Linguagem, (3). Retrieved from
This article describes and analyses nasal harmony (or spreading of nasality) in Awetí. It first shows generally how sounds in prefixes adapt to nasality or orality of stems, and how nasality in stems also ‘extends’ to the left. With abstract templates we show which phonetically nasal or oral sequences are possible in Awetí (focusing on stops, pre-nasalized stops and nasals) and which phonological analysis is appropriate for account for this regularities. In Awetí, there are intrinsically nasal and oral vowels and ‘neutral’ vowels which adapt phonetically to a following vowel or consonant, as is the case of sonorant consonants. Pre-nasalized stops such as “nt” are nasalized variants of stops, not post-oralized variants of nasals as in Tupí-Guaranian languages. For nasals and stops in syllable coda (end of morphemes), we postulate arqui-phonemes which adapt to the preceding vowel or a following consonant. Finally, using a declarative approach, the analysis formulates ‘rules’ (statements) which account for the ‘behavior’ of nasality in Awetí words, making use of “structured sequences” on both the phonetic and phonological levels. So, each unit (syllable, morpheme, word etc.) on any level has three components, a sequence of segments, a constituent structure (where pre-nasalized stops, like diphthongs, correspond to two segments), and an intonation structure. The statements describe which phonetic variants can be combined (concatenated) with which other variants, depending on their nasality or orality.
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