Skip to main content

The phonetics and phonology of lexical prosody in San Jerónimo Acazulco Otomi

  • Rory Turnbull (a1)

San Jerónimo Acazulco Otomi (SJAO) is an underdescribed and endangered Oto-Manguean language spoken in central Mexico. This paper provides an analysis of the phonology of tonal contrasts in SJAO and the phonetics of their realization based on pitch pattern data derived from audio recordings of citation forms of SJAO words. Each SJAO lexical word has one and only one tonal sequence – either /H/ or /HL/. This sequence is underlyingly associated with one syllable in the word. Other syllables are not specified for tone, and their phonetic realization is predictable depending on their position relative to the tonal syllable. A phonetic analysis revealed that underlyingly-tonal syllables are phonetically distinct from non-tonal syllables: those with /H/ are produced with greater vocal effort (measured by spectral tilt), and those with /HL/ are longer, louder, and bear a higher f0 (fundamental frequency), compared with non-tonal syllables. This analysis differs from previous accounts of lexical prosody in other Otomi varieties, which have either described a three-way system of high, low, and rising tones contrasting on every stem syllable, or a system where one syllable per word is assigned a stress-like ‘accent’. This difference from previous analyses suggests that there is a third possible characterization of lexical prosody for Otomi, which is appropriate for SJAO and potentially other understudied varieties.

Hide All
Andrews Henrietta. 1949. Phonemes and morphophonemes of Temoayan Otomi. International Journal of American Linguistics 15 (4), 213222.
Andrews Henrietta. 1993. The function of verb prefixes in Southwestern Otomí. Dallas, TX: SIL International.
Arellanes Francisco, Carranza Leonardo, Chávez-Peón Mario E, Fidencio Verónica, Guerrero Alonso, Ring Michael Knapp & Romero Antonio. 2011. Hacia una tipología tonal de las lenguas otopames. Memorias Del V Congreso de Idiomas Indígenas de Latinoamérica. Austin, TX: Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America.
Bartholomew Doris. 1965. The reconstruction of Otopamean (Mexico). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago.
Bartholomew Doris. 1979. Review of Otomi parables, folktales, and jokes, edited by H. Russell Bernard & Jesús Salinas Pedraza. The International Journal of American Linguistics 45 (1), 9497.
Bartholomew Doris. 2000. Intercambio lingüístico entre otomí y náhuatl. Estudios de Cultura Otopame 2, 189201.
Beckman Mary E. 1986. Stress and non-stress accent. Dordrecht: Foris.
Bent Tessa. 2004. Mandarin and English listeners’ perception of Mandarin tones in isolation and in context. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 116 (4), 2573.
Bernard H. Russell. 1966. Otomi tones. Anthropological Linguistics 8 (9), 1519.
Bernard H. Russell. 1973. Otomí phonology and orthography. International Journal of American Linguistics 39 (3), 180184.
Bernard H. Russell. 1974. Otomi tones in discourse. International Journal of American Linguistics 40 (2), 141150.
Bernard H Russell. 1980. Orthography for whom? International Journal of American Linguistics 46 (2), 133136.
Bernard H. Russell & Pedraza Jesús Salinas 1976. Otomi parables, folktales, and jokes (IJAL Native American Texts Series 2). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Berthiaume Scott Charles. 2004. A phonological grammar of Northern Pame. Ph.D. dissertation, The University of Texas at Arlington.
Blicher Deborah L., Diehl Randy L. & Cohen Leslie B.. 1990. Effects of syllable duration on the perception of the Mandarin tone 2/tone 3 distinction: Evidence of auditory enhancement. Journal of Phonetics 18 (1), 3749.
Blight Richard C. & Pike Eunice V.. 1976. The phonology of Tenango Otomi. International Journal of American Linguistics 42 (1), 5157.
Boeg Thomsen Ditte & Hansen Magnus Pharao. 2015. Lenguaje del paisaje: Testimonios lingüísticos del otomí de acazulco. In Vigliani Silvina & Junco Roverto (eds.), Bajo el volcán: Vida y ritualidad en torno al nevado de Toluca, 2547. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
Boersma Paul. 1993. Accurate short-term analysis of the fundamental frequency and the harmonics-to-noise ratio of a sampled sound. Proceedings of the Institute of Phonetic Sciences 17, 97110.
Cole Jennifer, Hualde José Ignacio & Iskarous Khalil. 1999. Effects of prosodic and segmental context on /g/-lenition in Spanish. In Fujimura Osamu, Joseph Brian D. & Palek Bohumil (eds.), Proceedings of the Fourth International Linguistics and Phonetics Conference, 575589. Prague: The Karolinium Press.
Crowhurst Megan J. & Olivares Amador Teodocio. 2014. Beyond the iambic-trochaic law: The joint influence of duration and intensity on the perception of rhythmic speech. Phonology 31 (1), 5194.
Cruz Luis Hernández, Torquemada Moisés Victoria & Crawford Donaldo Sinclair (eds.). 2004. Diccionario del hñähñu (otomí): Valle del Mesquital, Hidalgo (Vocabularios Indígenas 45). Mexico City: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.
de Jong Kenneth J. 1995. The supraglottal articulation of prominence in English: Linguistic stress as localized hyperarticulation. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 97 (1), 491504.
Delattre Pierre. 1966. A comparison of syllable length conditioning among languages. IRAL – International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching 4 (1–4), 183198.
Dilley Laura C. 2005. The phonetics and phonology of tonal systems. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.
Donohue M. 2005. Tone and the Trans New Guinea languages. In Kaji Shigeki (ed.), Cross-linguistic studies of tonal phenomena: Historical development and the tone/syntax interface, 3353. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Research Institute for Language and Cultures of Asia and Africa.
Dorian Nancy C. 1994. Varieties of variation in a very small place: Social homogeneity, prestige norms, and linguistic variation. Language 70 (4), 631696.
Engstrand Olle. 1988. Articulatory correlates of stress and speaking rate in Swedish VCV utterances. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 83 (5), 18631875.
Fant Gunnar, Kruckenberg Anita & Nord Lennart. 1991. Durational correlates of stress in Swedish, French, and English. Journal of Phonetics 19 (3–4), 351365.
Figueroa Sandra. 2012. El pasado otomí de la sierra de las Cruces: Su representación en voces de San Jerónimo Acazulco, Estado de México. Master's thesis, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Figueroa Sandra. 2015. De luna a luna: Quehaceres de las tías para una boda otomí. Estudios de Cultura Otopame 8 (1), 257274.
Fry Dennis B. 1955. Duration and intensity as physical correlates of linguistic stress. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 27, 765768.
Gandour Jackson T. 1978. The perception of tone. In Fromkin Victoria A. (ed.), Tone: A linguistic survey, 4172. New York: Academic Press.
Goldsmith John A. 1976. Autosegmental phonology. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.
Gómez Rendón Jorge. 2008. Typological and social constraints on language contact: Amerindian languages in contact with Spanish. Utrecht: Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap.
Gordon Matthew. 2011. Stress: Phonotactic and phonetic evidence. In van Oostendorp Marc, Ewen Colin, Hume Elizabeth & Rice Keren (eds.), The Blackwell companion to phonology, vol. II: Suprasegmental and prosodic phonology, 924948. Oxford: Blackwell.
Gordon Matthew & Ladefoged Peter. 2001. Phonation types: A cross-linguistic overview. Journal of Phonetics 29, 383406.
Hanson Helen M. 1997. Glottal characteristics of female speakers: Acoustic correlates. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 101 (1), 466481.
Harvey Herbert R. 1972. The Relaciones Geográficas, 1579–1586: Native languages. In Cline Howard F. (ed.), Handbook of Middle American Indians, vol. 12, 279323. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
Hawks John W. & Miller James D.. 1995. A formant bandwidth estimation procedure for vowel synthesis. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 97 (2), 13431345.
Hekking Ewald. 1995. El otomí de Santiago Mexquititlán: Desplazamiento lingüístico, préstamos y cambios grammaticales. Amsterdam: Institute for Functional Research into Language; Language Use.
Hekking Ewald & de Jesús Severiano Andrés. 1984. Gramática otomí. Querétaro: Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro.
Hekking Ewald & Bakker Dik. 2009. Loanwords in Otomi, an Otomanguean language of Mexico. In Haspelmath Martin & Tadmor Uri (eds), Loanwords in the world's languages: A comparative Handbook, 897915. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Heldner Mattias. 2003. On the reliability of overall intensity and spectral emphasis as acoustic correlates of focal accents in Swedish. Journal of Phonetics 31, 3962.
Henrich Nathalie, d'Allesandro Christophe & Doval Boris. 2001. Spectral correlates of voice open quotient and glottal flow asymmetry: Theory, limits, and experimental data. In Dalsgaard Paul, Lindberg Børge & Benner Henrik (eds.), Proceedings of Eurospeech, 4750. Aalborg: Aalborg Universitetsforlag.
Hernández-Green Néstor. 2011. Surgimiento de formas no finitas (FNF) en otomí de Acazulco. Memorias Del V Congreso de Idiomas Indígenas de Latinoamérica. Austin, TX: Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America.
Hernández-Green Néstor. 2012. Tono y flexión verbal en otomí de Acazulco. Handout from talk given at XII Encuentro Internacional de Lingüística en el Noroeste.
Hernández-Green Néstor. 2015. Morfosintaxis verbal del otomí de Acazulco. Ph.D. dissertation, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social.
Hernández-Green Néstor, Palancar Enrique L. & Hernández-Gómez Selene. 2011. The Spanish loanword lado in Otomi spatial descriptions. Language Sciences 33 (6), 961980.
Hess Harold Harwood. 1962. The syntactic structures of Mezquital Otomi. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan.
Homma Yayoi. 1981. Durational relationships between Japanese stops and vowels. Journal of Phonetics 9 (3), 273281.
House Arthur S & Stevens Kenneth N. 1958. Estimation of formant band widths from measurements of transient response of the vocal tract. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 1 (4), 309315.
Hualde José Ignacio. 2006. Remarks on word-prosodic typology. Proceedings of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 32 (BLS 32), 157174.
Hualde José Ignacio, Elordieta Gorka, Gaminde Iñaki & Smiljanić Rajka. 2002. From pitch accent to stress accent in Basque. In Gussenhoven Carlos & Warner Natasha (eds.), Laboratory Phonology VII, 547584. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Huffman Marie K. 1987. Measures of phonation type in Hmong. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 81 (2), 495504.
Hyman Larry M. 2006. Word-prosodic typology. Phonology 23, 225257.
Hyman Larry M. 2009. How (not) to do phonological typology: The case of pitch-accent. Language Sciences 31, 213238.
Iseli Markus, Shue Yen-Liang & Alwan Abeer. 2007. Age, sex, and vowel dependencies of acoustic measures related to the voice source. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 121 (4), 22832295.
Jakobson Roman. 1971. Studies on child language and aphasia. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Jamieson Allan R. 1977. Chiquihuitlan Mazatec tone. In Merrifield William R (ed.), Studies in Otomanguean phonology, 108136. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics & The University of Texas at Arlington.
Jiménez Moreno Wigberto. 1936. Mapa lingüístico del norte y centroamérica. Mexico City: Instituto Panamericano de Geograféa e Historia.
Kager René. 1993. Alternatives to the iambic-trochaic law. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 11, 381432.
Kaji Shigeki (ed.). 1999. Cross-linguistic studies of tonal phenomena: Tonogenesis, typology, and related topics. Tokyo: ILCAA.
Keating Patricia A. & Esposito Christina. 2007. Linguistic voice quality. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 105, 8591.
Klatt Dennis H. & Klatt Laura C.. 1990. Analysis, synthesis, and perception of voice quality variations among female and male talkers. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 87 (2), 820857.
Kreiman Jody, Gerratt Bruce R & Antoñanzas-Barroso Norma. 2007. Measures of the glottal source spectrum. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 50, 595610.
Kreiman Jody, Shue Yen-Liang, Chen Gang, Iseli Markus, Gerratt Bruce R., Neubauer Juergen & Alwan Abeer. 2012. Variability in the relationships among voice quality, harmonic amplitudes, open quotient, and glottal area waveform shape in sustained phonation. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 132 (4), 26252632.
Kubozono Haruo. 2011. Japanese pitch accent. In van Oostendorp Marc, Ewen Colin, Hume Elizabeth & Rice Keren (eds.), The Blackwell companion to phonology, vol. V: Phonology across languages, 28792907. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ladd D. Robert. 1984. Declination: A review and some hypotheses. Phonology Yearbook 1, 5374.
Ladd D. Robert. 2014. Simultaneous structure in phonology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ladefoged Peter, Maddieson Ian & Jackson Michel. 1988. Investigating phonation types in different languages. In Fujimura Osamu (ed.), Vocal fold physiology: Voice production, mechanisms and functions, 297317. New York: Raven Press.
Lastra Yolanda. 1989. Otomí de San Andrés Cuexcontitlán, Estado de México. Mexico City: Archivo de Lenguas Indígenas de México.
Lastra Yolanda. 1996. Verbal morphology of Ixtenco Otomi. Amerindia 21, 18.
Lastra Yolanda. 1997. El otomí de Ixtenco. Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, UNAM.
Lastra Yolanda. 1998. Otomí loans and creations. In Hill Jane H., Mistry P. J. & Campbell Lyle (eds.), The life of language: Papers in linguistics in honor of William Bright, 5966. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Lastra Yolanda. 2001. Unidad y diversidad de la lengua. Relatos otomíes. Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, UNAM.
Lastra Yolanda. 2006. Los otomies – su lengua y su historia. Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, UNAM.
Lastra Yolanda. 2010. Diversidad lingüística: Variación dialectal actual. In Barriga Rebecca & Butragueño Pedro Martín (eds.), Historia sociolingüística de México, vol. 2, 841880. Mexico City: El Colegio de México.
Leben William R. 1973. Suprasegmental phonology. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.
Leben William R. 2011. Autosegments. In van Oostendorp Marc, Ewen Colin, Hume Elizabeth & Rice Keren (eds.), The Blackwell companion to phonology, vol. I: General issues and segmental phonology, 311339. Oxford: Blackwell.
Leon Frances. 1963. Revisión de la folonología del otomí. Anales Del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia 15, 315330.
Leon Frances & Swadesh Morris. 1949. Two views of Otomi prosody. International Journal of American Linguistics 15 (2), 100105.
McCarthy John. 2004. Headed spans and autosegmental spreading. Ms., University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Mock Carol C. 1983. Tone sandhi in Isthmus Zapotec: An autosegmental account. Linguistic Analysis 12 (1), 91139.
Nakai Satsuki, Kunnari Sari, Turk Alice, Suomi Kari & Ylitalo Riika. 2009. Utterance-final lengthening and quantity in northern Finnish. Journal of Phonetics 37, 2945.
Odden David. 1999. Typological issues in tone and stress in Bantu. In Kaji (ed.), 187–215.
Palancar Enrique L. 2004a. Middle voice in Otomi. International Journal of American Linguistics 70 (1), 5285.
Palancar Enrique L. 2004b. Verbal morphology and prosody in Otomi. International Journal of American Linguistics 70 (3), 251278.
Palancar Enrique L. 2006. Property concepts in Otomí: A language with no adjectives. International Journal of American Linguistics 72 (3), 325366.
Palancar Enrique L. 2009. Gramática y textos del hñöñhö: Otomí de San Ildefonso Tultepec, Querétaro, vol. 1: Gramática. Mexico City: Plaza y Valdés.
Palancar Enrique L. 2011. The conjugations of colonial Otomi. Transactions of the Philological Society 109 (3), 246264.
Palancar Enrique L. 2012. The conjugation classes of Tilapa Otomi: An approach from canonical typology. Linguistics 50 (4), 783832.
Palancar Enrique L. 2013a. The evolution of number in Otomi: The many faces of the dual. Studies in Language 37 (1), 94143.
Palancar Enrique L. 2013b. Nominalización y complementación en otomí. In Palancar Enrique L. & Maldonaldo Roberto Zavala (eds.), Clases léxicas, posesión y cláusulas complejas en lenguas de Mesoamérica, 381412. Mexico City: CIESAS.
Pharao Hansen Magnus. 2012. Kinship in the past tense: Language, care and cultural memory in a Mexican community. Master's thesis, Brown University.
Pharao Hansen Magnus, Hernández-Green Néstor, Turnbull Rory & Thomsen Ditte Boeg, 2016. Life histories, language attitudes and linguistic variation: navigating the micropolitics of language revitalization in an Otomí community in Mexico. In Báez Gabriela Pérez, Rogers Chris & Labrada Jorge Emilio Rosés (eds.), Language documentation and revitalization in Latin American contexts, 215246. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Pharao Hansen Magnus, Turnbull Rory & Thomsen Ditte Boeg. 2011. From academic salvage linguistics to community-based documentation in only three weeks: Report from a collective and interdisciplinary fieldwork on Acazulco Otomí. Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation.
Plag Ingo, Kunter Gero & Schramm Mareile. 2011. Acoustic correlates of primary and secondary stress in north American English. Journal of Phonetics 39, 362374.
Pulleyblank Doug. 1986. Tone in lexical phonology. Dordrecht: Reidel.
Shaeffler Felix. 2005. Phonological quantity in Swedish dialects. Reports in Phonetics Umeå University (PHONUM), vol. 10.
Silverman Daniel. 1997. Tone sandhi in Comaltepec Chinantec. Language 73 (3), 473492.
Simpson Adrian P. 2012. The first and second harmonics should not be used to measure breathiness in male and female voices. Journal of Phonetics 40 (3), 477490.
Sinclair Donald E. & Pike Kenneth L.. 1948. The tonemes of Mesquital Otomi. International Journal of American Linguistics 14 (2), 9198.
Sluijter Agaath M. C. & van Heuven Vincent J.. 1996. Spectral balance as an acoustic correlate of linguistic stress. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 100 (4), 24712485.
Suárez Jorge A. 1983. The Mesoamerican Indian languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Turk Alice E. & Shattuck-Hufnagel Stefanie. 2007. Multiple targets of phrase-final lengthening in American English words. Journal of Phonetics 35, 445472.
Uwano Zendo. 1999. Classification of Japanese accent systems. In Kaji (ed.), 151–186.
Canales Valle, Leticia Berna. 2008. Obsolescencia dialectal y evolución de la lengua: la variación fonológica del otomí de San Pedro Atlapulco. Master's thesis, Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
van der Hulst Harry. 2011. Pitch accent systems. In van Oostendorp Marc, Ewen Colin, Hume Elizabeth & Rice Keren (eds.), The Blackwell companion to phonology, vol. II: Suprasegmental and prosodic phonology, 10031025. Oxford: Blackwell.
van der Hulst Harry & Smith Norval. 1988. Introduction. In van der Hulst Harry & Smith Norval (eds.), Autosegmental studies on pitch accent systems, ixxxiv. Dordrecht: Foris.
Voigtlander Katherine & Echegoyen Artemisa. 1985. Luces contemporaneas del otomí: gramática del otomí de la sierra. Mexico City: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.
Volhardt Marc Daniel Skibsted. 2014. Determination of a phoneme set for Acazulco Otomí: Linguistic fieldwork in Ndöngü, San Jerónimo Acazulco. Master's thesis, University of Iceland.
Wallis Ethel E. 1968. The word and the phonological hierarchy of Mezquital Otomi. Language 44 (1), 7690.
Wayland Ratree & Jongman Allard. 2003. Acoustic correlates of breathy and clear vowels: The case of Khmer. Journal of Phonetics 31, 181201.
Whalen Doug H. & Xu Yi. 1992. Information for Mandarin tones in the amplitude contour and in brief segments. Phonetica 49 (1), 2547.
Wright Carr David Charles. 2005. Precisiones sobre el término ‘otomí’. Arqueología Mexicana 13 (73), 19.
Wright Carr David Charles. 2008. La sociedad prehispánica en las lenguas náhuatl y otomí. Acta Universitaria 18 (1), 1523.
Wright Carr David Charles. 2010. Préstamos lingüísticos entre el otomí y el náhuatl. In Salazar Ana María & Kugel Verónica (eds.), Homenaje a Yolanda Lastra. X coloquio internacional sobre otopames, 211220. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas.
Wright Richard. 2004. Factors of lexical competition in vowel articulation. In Local John, Ogden Richard & Temple Rosalind (eds.), Papers in Laboratory Phonology IV: Phonetic interpretation, 7585. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yip Moira. 1989. Contour tones. Phonology 6 (1), 149174.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the International Phonetic Association
  • ISSN: 0025-1003
  • EISSN: 1475-3502
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-phonetic-association
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 12
Total number of PDF views: 77 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 599 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 18th October 2016 - 20th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.