Home        Publications        CV       Teaching         LFWG    Links Home.htmlPublications.htmlCV.htmlTeaching.htmlLFWG.htmlLinks.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2shapeimage_2_link_3shapeimage_2_link_4shapeimage_2_link_5


Description/documentation of Choguita Rarámuri and other indigenous languages of the Americas. Choguita Rarámuri is a highly agglutinative language with complex morphology and typologically unusual morphologically conditioned phonology and morphosyntactic patterns. For the past nine years I have carried out research on this language. The specific goals of my long term, ongoing project on this language are: 1) to assist community members in language documentation, mobilization of documentation products for immediate use in the community and training of younger speakers in documentation practices; 2) to develop theoretically informed publications; and 3) to produce a reference grammar of the language. 

This project is currently funded by the National Science Foundation Documenting Endangered Languages Program (DEL) (2012-2014).

Word prosody in Choguita Rarámuri. Choguita Rarámuri and related Taracahitan languages exhibit both phonetic and phonological properties of stress systems. Stress distribution is largely determined by the lexical stress makeup of roots and the morphological constructions in which they appear. One of the most typologically unusual features of the stress systems of these languages is that they possess an initial three-syllable stress window, a pattern that has only been documented in a handful of languages of the world (Caballero 2011). In addition to stress, Choguita Rarámuri also has contrastive tone in stressed syllables. While the development of tonal contrasts has been documented for a number of Uto-Aztecan languages, no variety of Rarámuri has been described as featuring a tonal contrast. In collaboration with graduate student Lucien Carroll, I am currently investigating the structural and phonetic properties of word prosodic phenomena in this Uto-Aztecan language, in order to provide the first description and analysis of its tonal system, and analyze its interaction with metrical structure. This will contribute to understanding the development of tone in the Taracahitan family and the interaction between stress and tone in other Uto-Aztecan languages. 

Complex morphology in Choguita Rarámuri and other agglutinating languages. In previous work (Caballero 2010, 2008), I have shown that speakers of Choguita Rarámuri treat subparts of complex words as undecomposable wholes and reuse them to derive more complex word forms even if they contain smaller parts that appear to be inconsistent with the meaning of the resulting word. Word structures themselves may be constrained by pressures to allow for reliable mapping between sounds and forms (Hay & Baayen 2005) as well as other processing pressures. All of these tendencies are probabilistic in nature and combine in parallel to jointly determine the form of a word. Together with Vsevolod Kapatsinski (University of Oregon), I seek to understand the interplay between psycholinguistic and distributional factors and complex morphological systems through investigation of Choguita Rarámuri as a case study. For this purpose, we seek to combine documentation-based field research, with quantitative corpus-based research and experimental data. 

Typology of affix order and multiple exponence. Affix ordering is a topic that lies at the core of morphological theory and forms an ideal testing grounds for determining the nature of the interface between different components of grammar. Growing documentation of lesser known languages reveals patterns that challenge previous assumptions of possible affix order systems. My dissertation and published paper (Caballero 2010) documents a new case of free affix order, where alternative orders are determined by scope, templatic constraints, phonological subcategorization and phonological conditions on stem shape. 

	I am also interested in Multiple (extended) Exponence (ME), the one-to-many mapping between a morphological category and its formal expression (Matthews 1974; Stump 2001, Anderson 2001). Despite its critical theoretical ramifications and increasing number of documented cases, there is still no clear sense as to what is the possible range of variation in ME patterns cross-linguistically. In order to fill this gap, I am currently investigating, together with Alice C. Harris (UMass Amherst), what are possible parameters of variation in documented patterns of ME. So far, we have surveyed about one hundred patterns of ME in languages belonging to twenty-five language families. Our preliminary survey (Caballero & Harris to appear) reveals that ME is more common and less constrained than commonly believed. 

	My interest in ME extends to developing a formal account of this phenomenon. Together with Sharon Inkelas (UC Berkeley), I’m developing a cyclic, optimizing production model of morphology that builds on Construction Morphology (Booij 2010) and provides a unified account of attested patterns of blocking and semantically superfluous morphology. In our forthcoming paper, we hypothesize that ME arises cross-linguistically through the cyclic optimization of word structure along scales of meaning strength and structural well-formedness. Under this account, ME can be generated through independently needed mechanisms, the same mechanisms also necessary to generate blocking effects.