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The present research describes the phonology and morphology of Northern Pame, an Otomanguean
language of Central Mexico. Furthermore, it explains the grammatical relationship of these domains
from an Optimality Theoretic perspective.
In terms of description, Northern Pame has a complex phonological inventory of 40 consonants,
which distinguish among glottalized, aspirated, voiceless and voiced segments, as well as 6 vowels,
which contrast for nasalization. In addition, a claim is made for two Northern Pame tones, in contrast to
earlier suggestions of a three-tone system (Avelino 1997). Regarding Otomanguean laryngeally complex
vowels (Silverman 1997b, Herrera 2000), this research provides phonological, as well as laryngoscopic
evidence for the segmental, rather than a unit, interpretation in Northern Pame.
Northern Pame allows for complex syllable margins, but these are severely constrained by the OCP.
Syllable complex nuclei are completely forbidden, and epenthesis (*DEP) is the common strategy to
resolve potential nuclei problems.
Northern Pame is morphologically complex, marking nouns for class, possession, number including
dual and plural, and association. Verbs fall into two classes, each of which is sub-divided based on
transitivity. Verbs and nouns share the same suffix morphology for number. Northern Pame
morphophonemics encompass processes that affect place or precedence (metathesis, palatalization),
laryngealization and syllable well-formedness. Under such underlying circumstances, the constraints
UNIFORMITY-IO and LINEARITY-IO are the common minimal violations.
[ In the interest of making this work available without further delay, we are posting it as it was accepted by the institution that granted the degree without further peer review.]