Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/26076

Collaborative documentation and revitalization of Cherokee tone and vowel length

File SizeFormat 
26076.mp340.61 MBMP3View/Open

Item Summary

Title: Collaborative documentation and revitalization of Cherokee tone and vowel length
Issue Date: 01 Mar 2013
Description: Collaborators from Cherokee Nation, University of Oklahoma and University of Kansas worked together on a Cherokee tone and vowel length project. Our work represents a unique contribution to language documentation, especially with respect to prosodic features of tonal languages. Additionally, it demonstrates the benefits of cooperative and interdisciplinary sharing of expertise and exemplifies how the varied skills of many people, including speakers, learners, theoretical and applied linguists, documentation specialists, second language specialists, teacher trainers, and technology specialists can complement each other.

Overall goals of our project include the accurate description of both tone and vowel length. These features will eventually be represented and accessible to the community through an online dictionary. Training sessions were designed around these goals and an educational component of the project involves applying this knowledge to Cherokee second language classrooms as a pedagogical resource for helping learners improve their Cherokee pronunciation.

Tone can be challenging to document because it is relative to both the speaker (e.g. vocal tract, pitch rate, emotional state) and phonetic context (e.g. manner, place, word-size, phonological phrasing, focus). This is a difficult task even for native speakers and more so for learners. Linguists led user- friendly (often non-technical) workshops illustrating numerous techniques to make Cherokee tone and vowel length more salient. Teams, consisting of one first language speaker and one second language speaker (typically with no background in linguistics), worked through the tasks with both members contributing to the marking of linguistic features.

Results of the ongoing project include word lists illustrating different Cherokee vowel length and tonal characteristics, recorded files that illustrate different tones and vowel lengths with different speakers, and a growing database containing over 1000 acoustic measurements for tone and vowel length. These materials provide us with an empirical base from which to begin evaluating current models concerning the typology of prosodic systems. The literature on Cherokee tone documents five or six surface tones (Johnson 2005; Lindsey 1985; Montgomery-Anderson 2008; Author 1975; Uchihara 2009; Wright 1996). Our findings suggest that Cherokee has a high level tone, a relatively level low tone, a low falling tone, a high falling tone, a rising tone, and a super-high tone. We will discuss these findings, present a preliminary acoustic analysis of Cherokee tone and vowel length, and share the lessons we learned from taking a holistic, collaborative approach to the description, documentation, and teaching of tone and vowel length in Cherokee.

*The opinions expressed in this abstract are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cherokee Nation.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/26076
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)



Items in ScholarSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.