Our next meeting will be led by David Shanks, who will be presenting on ongoing research on Southern Tutchone. There is no reading for this session. Here is the abstract:
This talk examines vowel length in Southern Tutchone, a critically endangered Dene (Athabaskan) language spoken in the southern Yukon. Vowels in Southern Tutchone generally fit into two categories: reduced and full. Reduced vowels are underlyingly short, while full vowels are underlyingly long. I focus on apparent asymmetries in the front and central vowels, specifically that orthographic <e> and <a> appear to fit into neither group. First, I propose that orthographic <e> represents two distinct phones: /eː/ and /jə/, realized as [eː] and [ɛ], respectively. Second, I propose that <a> always represents the phoneme /aː/, whose behaviour is truly exceptional and requires further study. Data is draw from recent fieldwork in Whitehorse, Yukon.