Nasal harmony in consonants in Chiquitano and its origins
Andrey Nikulin (Núcleo Takinahakỹ de Formação Superior Indígena, Federal University of Goiás;
Journal of Language Relationship, № 21/3-4, 2023 - p.184-200
Abstract: This article deals with the origins of the so-called consonant nasal harmony in Chiquitano (Bolivia/Brazil, Macro-Jê family), in which the consonants /β ɾ j ɰ/ change to /m n ɲ ŋ/, usually when a nasal segment is present elsewhere in the word. The exact rules vary from dialect to dialect and are not fully described in the literature. Based on published works and my own field recordings, I provide a description of nasal harmony in contemporary varieties of Chiquitano. I argue that nasal harmony had vowels as its primary targets in Proto-Chiquitano, whereas consonants were indirectly affected by the process due to tautosyllabic assimilation. I also provide evidence that nasal harmony in consonants arose when nasal vowels underwent massive denasalization, thus phonologizing the erstwhile nasal and non-nasal allophones of the sonorant series. The present hypothesis explains why morphemes without a single nasal segment can have a floating feature [+nasal] in the contemporary Chiquitano varieties under examination and accounts for the phonological adaptation of certain loanwords from Spanish and Guaraní.
Keywords: Chiquitano language, Macro-Jê languages, nasal harmony, consonant harmony