Reduplication in Chácobo: descriptive models, speaker variation, and the documentary record

Vortragende(r) Adam J.R. Tallman
Institution(en) Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Workshop/Tagung Lecture Series "Language: Documentation and Theory (ELAR / ZAS)"
Datum 14.01.2022
Uhrzeit 16:00 Uhr

Language: Documentation and Theory

The Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW) together with the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) are delighted to announce the launch of a new lecture series. Our aim is to give a forum to linguistic work that advances or is based on the documentation of underdescribed languages, thus not only supporting linguistic research but also honoring the UNESCO International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032). For inquiries, please contact Mandana Seyfeddinipur (ELAR) or Manfred Krifka (ZAS),

Due to Corona measures, participation in the lecture room of ZAS is restricted (please inform Manfred Krifka if you want to join). Participation is possible via Zoom (Meeting-ID 636 0651 0838, Meeting Link 


In this talk I will provide the first detailed description of reduplication in Chácobo, a southern Pano language of the northern Bolivian Amazon. I show that current classifications of reduplication phenomena provided for other Pano languages are insufficient for Chácobo. First, current descriptions ignore phonological constraints on reduplication, which I show to be relevant in Chácobo. Secondly current descriptions of reduplication in Pano posit a distinction between word versus subword reduplications, which I show to be unmotivated.

I also use data from Chácobo to compare competing theories of reduplication; specifically, phonoogical copying and morphological doubling. Phonological copying (or ‘base-reduplicant correspondence’) understands a reduplication construction as consisting of a ‘base’ and a ‘reduplicant’, where the latter is a phonological copy of the former. Morphological doubling understands reduplication as structurally analogous to a coordinate construction, but where the morphosyntactic material is identical.  The theories predict different facts with regards to the over- and underapplication of phonological rules in reduplication contexts. In order to test the which theory is better I designed n elicitation questionnaire with reduplication construction for elicitation judgements where phonological rules where speakers were given the option of chosing between surface forms where phonological rules over or under applied. The questionnaire was used with 7 Chácobo speakers. The results show that speakers vary substnatially in terms of whether they over or underapply phonological rules in reduplication contexts. The variation is such as to provide no support for either theory over the other. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether the situation documented for Chácobo is an anomaly because current studies on the topic provide no information about the elicitation context or whether the patterns have been replicated with more than one speaker. One explanation of the results in Chácobo might relate to language-use and entrenchment. I suggest the ‘noisiness’ of the Chácobo data relate to the low frequency of occurrence of contexts where over/under application would be an issue.  Methodological and theoretical implications are discussed.