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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Witsuwit’en Grammar

Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology

Witsuwit’en is an endangered First Nations language spoken in western-central British Columbia. A member of the Athapaskan family of languages, the language had been known to have some intriguing characteristics of consonant-vowel interaction, the details of which have been in dispute among scholars.

Witsuwit’en Grammar presents acoustic studies of several aspects of Witsuwit’en phonetics, including vowel quality, vowel quantity, ejectives, voice quality, and stress. Information about the sound system and word structure of Witsuwit’en is also provided, revealing many unusual features not previously described in this level of detail for an Athapaskan language.

Witsuwit’en has elaborate morphology, even by the standards of the Athapaskan language family. Witsuwit’en Grammar will be of interest to anthropologists interested in the history of the Athapasakan language family, linguists interested in comparative Athapaskan grammar, or any linguist interested in phonetics-phonology or phonology-morphology interaction.

Table of Contents


Author’s note



Part 1: Language and Dialect

1 Witsuwit’en

1.1 Geography

1.2 Demographics

1.3 Previous research on Witsuwit’en-Babine

1.4 Witsuwit’en-U’in Wit’en dialects

1.5 Witsuwit’en dialects

1.6 Carrier vs. Witsuwit’en-Babine

1.7 Language name

Part 2: Segmental Phonetics and Phonology

2 Consonant contrasts

2.1 Consonant inventory

2.2 Labial consonants

2.3 Nasal consonants

2.4 Voiced vs. voiceless fricatives

2.5 Labio-velar consonants

2.6 /h/

2.7 V

2.8 Summary

3 Consonant Phonetics

3.1 Ejective stops

3.2 Final glottalic consonants and voice quality

3.3 T- qualifier prefix

3.4 Summary

4 Vowel Quality

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Previous analyses

4.3 An acoustic study of vowel quality

4.4 Summary

4.5 Tables of numerical results

5 Vowel Quantity

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Reduced vs. full vowels

5.3 Long full vowels

5.4 / / lengthening

5.5 A phonetic study of /a/, /aa/ and lengthened / /

5.6 Representation of the reduced and full vowel classes

5.7 Summary

6 Consonant and vowel classes

6.1 Laryngeal features

6.2 Place features

6.3 Manner features

6.4 Summary

Part 3: Morphology and Phonological Structure

7 Nouns

7.1 Possessive prefixes

7.2 Pronouns

7.3 Nominal roots

7.4 Compounds

7.5 Plural and vocative forms

7.6 Noun classes

7.7 Nouns derived from other lexical categories

7.8 Loan words

7.9 Summary

8 Postpositions

8.1 Inflection for object of postposition

8.2 Postposition stems: phonological properties

8.3 Postposition stems: semantic properties

8.4 No

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