Volume 26, Spring 2005

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    Open Access
    Resolving hierarchy conflict: local obviation in Blackfoot*
    (University of Calgary, 2005-05) Bliss, Heather; Jesney, Karen
    Algonquian languages, including Blackfoot, are renowned for their failure to directly follow the Universal Animacy Hierarchy, which privileges first person over second person. In at least certain aspects of the Blackfoot grammar, it is typically assumed that second person is privileged over first. Even more surprising is that this apparent [2>1] hierarchy is not the sole one operative within this language. Rather, elsewhere within the grammar, the Universal Animacy Hierarchy appears to be obeyed, with the first person being privileged over the second. In this paper we argue that this apparent hierarchy conflict in Blackfoot can be resolved by reconsidering the nature of person marking and the role of obviation in the verbal complex. Specifically, we propose extensions to Harley and Ritter’s (2002) morphosyntactic feature geometry to include obviation. This is represented within a Stage node which, along with Participant, is a dependent of Sentience. Further to this, we argue that Proximate and Obviative features are not limited to non-local referents as is typically assumed. Rather, local persons can also express obviation contrasts. We treat the Blackfoot person prefixes as exemplifying precisely such specification, in contrast with previous proposals which identify them as first and second persons. Recognizing these prefixes as participating in the obviation system provides insight into seemingly problematic phenomena within Blackfoot’s verbal morphology. Crucially, our account facilitates a resolution of the apparent hierarchy conflicts present in other analyses and reaffirms the centrality of the Universal Animacy Hierarchy in Blackfoot.
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    Open Access
    The role of sonority in Blackfoot phonotactics*
    (University of Calgary, 2005-05) Elfner, Emily
    Contrary to appearance (e.g. nómohtsstsiinssoka anni iihtáísttsikaahkiaakio’pi ‘she singed me with the iron’), the phonotactics of Blackfoot, an Algonquian language spoken in southern Alberta and northern Montana, are highly restrictive. In this paper, I describe Blackfoot phonotactics and demonstrate that the distribution of Blackfoot phonemes may be explained with reference to sonority. The role of sonority in phonotactics is a concept which has been well-documented phonologically (Sievers 1881 et seq) and has been shown to have phonetic motivation (Parker 2002). It has been held accountable for universal preferences in syllable structure (for example, the preference for CV syllables), as well as for the sequencing of segments within and across syllables, as evidenced in generalisations such as the Sonority Sequencing Principle. Cross-linguistic study has revealed the universal applicability of the sonority scale (ibid.), a formal ranking of sound classes according to their relative sonority. In Blackfoot, reference to the traditional sonority hierarchy not only motivates the phonotactic constraints but also provides a possible explanation for several morphophonological processes.
  • Item
    Open Access
    Initial change in Blackfoot
    (University of Calgary, 2005-05) Proulx, Paul
    This paper is a preliminary description of the history of Blackfoot initial change, a peculiar modification of the verb stem found in most Algonquian languages, from Proto Central Algonquian times to the present. It begins with extensive notes on the historical phonology of Blackfoot, necessary to following the examples when discussing the history of initial change.