Tuyuca language

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Tuyuca
Native to Colombia, Brazil
Native speakers
ca. 1,000  (1995–2006)[1]
Tucanoan
  • Eastern
    • Central
      • Bara
        • Tuyuca
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
tue – Tuyuca
pok – Pokangá (Bará)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Tuyuca (also Dochkafuara, Tejuca, Tuyuka, Dojkapuara, Doxká-Poárá, Doka-Poara, or Tuiuca) is an Eastern Tucanoan language (similar to Tucano) spoken by the Tuyuca people. The Tuyuca are an indigenous ethnic group of some 500-1000 people who inhabit the watershed of the Papuri, Inambú and Tiquié rivers in the Colombian department of Vaupés and the Brazilian state of Amazonas.

Grammar[edit]

Tuyuca is a postpositional agglutinative SOV language with mandatory type II evidentiality. Five evidentiality paradigms are used: visual, nonvisual, apparent, secondhand, and assumed, though secondhand evidentiality exists only in the past tense and apparent evidentiality does not appear in the first person present tense.[2] The language is estimated to have 50 to 140 noun classes.[3]

Phonetics & Phonology[edit]

The consonants in Tuyuca are /p t k b d ɡ s r w j h/ and the vowels are /i ɨ u e a o/, plus syllable nasalization and pitch accent.[2]

Vowels

Back Central Front
High i ɨ u
Mid e o
Low a

Consonants

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar
Voiceless stop p t k
Voiced stop b ~ m d ~ n ɡ ~ ŋ
Fricative s
Rhotic ɺ ~ r ~ r̃
Continuant w ~ w̃ dʒ ~ j ~ ɲ h ~ h̃

Consonantal contrasts[edit]

The following words show some of the consonant contrasts.[4]

Bilabial contrasts

/pakó/ 'mom'
/bapá/ 'plate'
/wapá/ 'payment'

Alveolar contrasts

/botéa/ 'a fish'
/bodé/ 'dragonfly'
/bosé/ 'party'
/boré/ 'whitening'

Velar and palatal contrasts

/bɨkó/ 'ant-eater'
/bɨɡó/ 'aunt'
/hoó/ 'plantain'
/joó/ 'thread'

Consonantal variation[edit]

  • The voiceless plosives /p, t, k/ have aspirated variants that tend to occur before high vowels and not near voiceless vowels. There are a few degrees of the amount of aspiration.
  • Preglottalized variants of /b, d/ occur together at the onset.
    • Preglottalized forms of [m, w, w̃, j, j̃, ɲ, dʒ] occur in the onset and are in free variations with their plain counterparts.
  • Prenasal variants of /b, d, ɡ/ occur after nasal vowels and before oral vowels: /kĩĩbai/ [kʰĩĩmbaii̥].[5]

Nasal Assimilation[edit]

  • Voiced consonants /b, d, ɡ, r, w, j/ have nasal variants at the same place of articulation, [m, n, ŋ, ɳ, w̃, j̃], before nasal vowels.
    • The /j/ can also surface as ɲ before high nasal vowels.
  • The /h/ also has a nasalized variant that occurs before nasal vowels.

Nasal Harmony[edit]

Segments in a word are either all nasal or all oral.

/waa/ 'to go'
/w̃ãã/ 'to illuminate' (the /w/ is nasal)

Note that voiceless segments are transparent.

/ãkã/ 'choke on a bone'
/w̃ãtĩ/ 'demon'

See further remarks regarding the oral/nasal nature of affixes in the Morphophonemics section.

Suprasegmental features[edit]

The two suprasegmental features in this language are tone and nasalization.

Tone[edit]

There is a high tone (H) and a low tone (L) in Tuyuca. The phonological word has one and only one high tone which may occur in any syllable of the word. The low tone has two variants: a mid-tone that occurs in words that have at least three syllables in free variation with the low tone in internal syllables that have an [i] vowel contiguous to the H-tone and not preceded by a low-tone.

  • Accent is the same as high tone.
  • Tone is contrastive in (C)VV syllables
/díi/ 'blood'
/dií/ 'mud'
  • Words of type (C)VCV have tone on the second syllable (but not in loanwords)
/eté/ 'parakeet'
/b̃ésa/ 'table' ( ← Portuguese 'mesa')

Nasalization[edit]

Nasalization is phonemic and operates on the root level:

/sĩã/ 'to kill'
/sia/ 'to tie'

Phonetic distribution and syllabic structure[edit]

A syllable is considered any unit that may take tone and consists of a vocalic nucleus with or without a consonant before it.

Restrictions

  • /ɡ/ and /r/ never occur word-initially
  • The strings /ɡu/ and /wu/ are absent.
  • A VV string can be made up of any two vowels, either of which may occur first, except for /u/, which always occurs last.
  • Multi-syllabic VVV strings occur, but not all combinations of vowels are attested. /u/ is always last in such strings.
  • (C)V may be optionally realized with aspiration (having the same quality as the preceding vowel) when the syllable is unstressed and precedes syllables with voiceless onsets.[6]

Morphophonemics[edit]

All affixes fall into one of two classes:

  1. Oral affixes which may undergo nasalization, like the plural morpheme -ri: /sopéri/ 'marks'[clarification needed]
  2. Affixes that are intrinsically oral or nasal and cannot be changed.

When a nasal CV suffix occurs where C is a continuant or a vibrant /r/, the nasalization spreads regressively to the preceding vowel.

Difficulty[edit]

The Economist has described Tuyuca as the world's "most difficult" language because of its many noun classes and its evidentiality: a linguistic feature requiring that the speaker indicate the source or reliability of statements by the use of verbal suffixes.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tuyuca at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Pokangá (Bará) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ a b Janet Barnes (1984). "Evidentials in the Tuyuca verb." International Journal of American Linguistics 50, pp. 255–71.
  3. ^ a b "Difficult Languages: Tongue Twisters - In search of the world’s hardest language". The Economist. 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  4. ^ Barnes, Janet; Silzer, Sheryl (1976). "Fonología del tuyuca". Sistemas fonológicos de idiomas colombianos (SIL) 3: 125. 
  5. ^ Barnes, Janet; Silzer, Sheryl (1976). "Fonología del tuyuca". Sistemas fonológicos de idiomas colombianos (SIL) 3: 127. 
  6. ^ Barnes, Janet; Silzer, Sheryl (1976). "Fonología del tuyuca". Sistemas fonológicos de idiomas colombianos (SIL) 3: 134. 

External links[edit]