Gene Buckley to speak at the Miniconference on Metrical Structure

Gene Buckley is an invited speaker at the Minconference on Metrical Structure.  The title of his talk is: "Pomoan stress: Change, contact, and reanalysis." The conference will be held at Utrecht University, April 15-17, 2014.

The Pomoan family of languages in Northern California consists of seven members, which probably diverged at least two thousand years ago. The proto-language can be reconstructed with a rather simple stress pattern, falling on the first or second syllable of the word; since many words have a one-syllable prefix, the rule may actually be the first syllable of the root. The daughter languages have sometimes maintained a close variant of this pattern, but there have also been diverse changes: Eastern Pomo has irregular stress on unprefixed disyllabic roots; Northern Pomo has acquired pitch accent; Southern Pomo has regular penultimate stress; and Kashaya has a complex iambic system with left-edge extrametricality and rightward accent shift from long vowels. In this paper I explore the nature of reanalysis by language learners that must have occurred in order for the new patterns to arise, and what biases this might suggest in acquisition. Since the Pomoan languages are situated in a diverse linguistic region - they are in contact with each other and with members of three other language families - I also consider the possible role of language contact in these changes. I focus in particular on how the highly marked Kashaya system could come about despite seemingly simpler alternatives of reanalysis, and what implications this has for the nature of the language faculty in acquisition.