Ben Macaulay, CUNY: Phonetic evidence for prosodic structures in Formosan languages
Much of what we know about prosodic structures in Formosan languages (i.e. the Austronesian languages of Taiwan) is based on impressionistic evidence. Few Formosan languages have seen dedicated works about their prosodic structure or intonational phonology based on phonetic data, and those that exist often employ frameworks that preclude their results from being used for comparative study. In this talk, I present some of the results from an Autosegmental-Metical study of twelve Formosan language varieties, based on original fieldwork. In addition to revealing yet-undescribed structures in these languages, this study has yielded a number of results that put into question the type of evidence used for descriptions of prosodic structure, and how they have been analyzed. Some languages in the study have complex patterns in stress assignment that have evaded description by being difficult to perceive (including Mantauran Rukai); some have existing descriptions of phonological elements that have been ascribed to the wrong role (including Hla'alua/Saaroa); and some have seen description of phonological alternations, but not the phonetic patterns that may contribute to their development (including Piuma Paiwan). A number of Formosan languages, including Kanakanavu, Kavalan, and Isbukun Bunun, also show unique intonational phonology for clitics. This calls into question a common approach to clitics in Austronesian, namely that their effects on prosodic structure can be analyzed with respect to their effect (or lack thereof) on the location of word prominence.