NZILBB Seminar with Rolando Coto-Solano (Victoria University of Wellington)

Tonal Reduction, Tonal Awareness and Literacy in Me'phaa Vathaa

Me'phaa Vathaa (an Otomanguean language from Mexico) is in the process of language revitalization and integration into bilingual curricula. However, its complex tonal system has hindered its expansion into written use. This study examines the relationship between tonal phonetics, tonal reduction and the orthographic patterns produced by Me'phaa Vathaa speaking teachers, and discusses these patterns in the context of Indigenous education in Mexico and the language ideologies held by the teachers. 

In studying these phenomena, this study also describes the processes of tonal reduction in Me'phaa Vathaa and describes its similarities and divergences with the reduction described for other tonal languages such as Mandarin, Thai and Triqui. Tonal reduction processes in Me'phaa Vathaa show differences from those documented for these languages, such as carryover assimilation only in reduced speech and a lack of anticipatory assimilation due to Me’phaa Vathaa’s syllabic structures. These results expand our known typology of tonal reduction. Finally, the study offers a report on the differential of phoneme and tonal awareness in adults who did not receive tonal training during literacy acquisition. This is relevant to both educational and language planners, as well as to practitioners of language revitalization

Friday 16th June

1pm - 2pm

Room Locke104a