Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Tonal reduction and literacy in Me’ph aa Vátháá
by Coto Solano, Rolando Alberto, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2017, 316; 10254454
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the relationship between tonal phonetics, tonal reduction and orthographic patterns produced by Me'ph aa Vátháá speaking teachers. It discusses these patterns in the context of Indigenous education in Mexico and of the language ideologies held by the teachers, which have parallels to those held by speakers of Spanish and practitioners of language revitalization. Its main finding is that tones undergo phonetic changes which reduce their relative psychoacoustic distances, and this combines with the writing practices of the teachers (in which they repeat the words to themselves at varying speeds) to produce hesitation when writing the tonal markers. This is framed in an ideological process of privileging writing as the ideal form of language revitalization, and of rejection of variants and spelling `mistakes', which results in further linguistic insecurity by the teachers. This has repercussions for the revitalization of the language, in that teachers sometimes choose not to write in M e'phaa Vátháá, particularly in contexts involving technology such as social media, out of fear of making 'mistakes'.

In studying these phenomena, this study also describes the processes of tonal reduction in Me'phaa Vátháá and describes its similarities and differences with the reduction described for other tonal languages such as Mandarin, Thai and Triqui. Tonal reduction processes in Me'ph aa Vátháá are not an exact match to any of these languages, which suggests that, while reduction is universal, it has language-specific expressions, which suggest that reduction typologies should be further studied. In addition to this, the study offers a report on the process of tonal spelling learning by adults who didn't receive this training as children. This is relevant to both educational and language planners, as well as to practitioners of language revitalization.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wedel, Andrew, Zepeda, Ofelia
Commitee: DiCanio, Christian, Warner, Natasha, Wyman, Leisy
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 78/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Foreign language education, Multicultural Education, Language
Keywords: Indigenous literacy, Language revitalization, Me'phaa, Mexico, Phonetics, Tone
Publication Number: 10254454
ISBN: 978-1-369-60082-7
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