Laura J. Downing

Laura J. Downing
University of Gothenburg | GU · Department of Languages and Literatures

PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
retired, 30 June 2021

About

104
Publications
27,804
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1,256
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2012 - present
University of Gothenburg
Position
  • Professor of African Languages
January 2001 - August 2012
Centre for General Linguistics
Position
  • Senior Researcher
September 1998 - December 1999
University of British Columbia - Vancouver
Position
  • Lecturer

Publications

Publications (104)
Article
Full-text available
The ATR vowel harmony patterns observed in Kinande have received persistent attention for their non-canonical properties, such as a combination of stem control and dominance, dominance reversal, and optional extension of the harmonic domain from that of the prosodic word to a nominal phrase (DP). A full optimality-theoretic account of the complex p...
Article
Full-text available
It is widely agreed that prosodic constituents should mirror syntactic constituents (unless high-ranking prosodic constraints interfere). Because recursion is a feature of syntactic representa- tions, one expects recursion in prosodic representations as well. However, it is of current controversy what kinds of syntactic representation motivate pros...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the role of phonetic cues to postnasal laryngeal contrasts, language-specific differences in the use of these cues, and the phonetic naturalness of the different cues. While many studies have shown that long stop closure duration is a well-established cue to voicelessness in the postnasal context (see, e.g., Cohn & Riehl 2012, w...
Conference Paper
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Many African tone languages have tonal morphemes and/or morphemes that introduce construction-specific grammatical tone patterns. As work like Hyman (2016), Inkelas (1998), Odden & Bickmore (2014) and Rolle (2018) shows, grammatical tone patterns have a number of properties that challenge a concatenative view of morphology. They associate a High to...
Article
A persistent issue for the Prosodic Hierarchy is what repertory of prosodic constituents is needed to define the commonly recurring domains for phonological processes. Even though there is a long tradition of work arguing in favor of up to three subphrasal constituents (Composite Group (CG), PWord and PStem), a body of recent work has argued in fav...
Chapter
Full-text available
The foundations of autosegmental theory were laid by linguists analyzing African tonal systems (e.g., Leben 1973, Goldsmith 1976). Perhaps because of the successes of the autosegmental approach to lexical tone, other factors that influence pitch realization – like intonation and register – have tended, until recently, to be analyzed as purely tonal...
Chapter
Full-text available
Tumbuka is spoken in the northern Lake Malawi region where it is typical for Bantu languages to have what has been called a restricted tone system: all words must have a High tone. This kind of prosodic system has stress-like properties. Kisseberth & Odden (2003) and Vail (1972) suggest that Tumbuka is a purely stress language. This paper argues, i...
Article
The phonetic motivation for the synchronic and diachronic development of post-nasal voicing (*NT > ND) is well understood. Less well understood is the phonetic motivation for other common synchronic and diachronic developments from *NT, widely attested in Bantu languages, such as aspiration of the voiceless plosive and subsequent loss of either the...
Chapter
Full-text available
In most Bantu languages, an object prefix can occur on the verb. In some Bantu languages, this object prefix has a purely anaphoric function, while in others it has an additional agree- ment function. Since Bresnan & Mchombo, Chichewa (Bantu N.31 Malawi) has been con- sidered a textbook example of a language where the object marker is “always an in...
Article
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While the domains of phrasal phonological processes are, in many interface theories, defined in terms of prosodic constituents, D’Alessandro and Scheer (2015) argue that their proposed modification of phase theory, Modular PIC, renders prosodic constituents superfluous. Phrasal phonological domains can instead be defined directly in the syntax. In...
Article
Full-text available
Reduplication has played a central role in the development of phonological theories for 30 years. The introduction of Classical Optimality Theory (OT) in the 1990s sparked intensive research into the typology and analysis of reduplicative patterns, as reduplication was a key testing area both for OT and for theories critical of OT. Now, after some...
Article
Reduplication has played a central role in the development of phonological theories for 30 years. The introduction of the classical optimality theory (OT) in the 1990s sparked intensive research into the typology and analysis of reduplicative patterns, as reduplication was a key testing area both for OT and for theories critical of OT. Now, after s...
Article
Full-text available
Phonological alternations in homorganic nasal–stop sequences provide a continuing topic of investigation for phonologists and phoneticians alike. Surveys like Herbert (1986), Rosenthal (1989), Steriade (1993) and Hyman (2001) demonstrate that cross-linguistically the most common process is for the postnasal stop to become voiced, as captured by Pat...
Article
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In the traditional Prosodic Hierarchy, the Prosodic Word is the lowest level of the hierarchy defined in terms of the interface between morphosyntactic and prosodic constituents. Recent work by Ito and Mester reaffirms this, defining Prosodic Word as matching the syntactic category X (N, V, and offering no sub-lexical constituents. In this article,...
Article
Full-text available
This paper addresses three central questions in the phonology-syntax interface: What does phonology know about syntax? Does phrasal phonology ‘know’ about syntax directly or indirectly (i.e., mediated by prosodic constituents like Intonation Phrase)? When does the phonology-syntax interaction take place? Most current phase-based theories of the int...
Article
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Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: Special Session on African Language Structures (1991), pp. 74-86
Article
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It has long been observed that subjects cross-linguistically have topic properties: they are typically definite, referential and/or generic (Givón 1976). Bantu languages are said to illustrate this generalization: preverbal position for NPs is equated with both subject and topic status and postverbal position with focus (and non-subject). However,...
Article
Full-text available
This article illustrates the non-melodic and melodic verb tone patterns in Jita. One finds several melodic patterns: a penult High pattern, a final High pattern, an initial High/final High pattern and a 'chaotic' pattern which combines the other patterns within a single inflection depending on the length and lexical tone of the verb stem. The verb...
Article
Full-text available
Samek-Lodovici (2005) contributes to a well-established tradition of work on the prosody-focus interface, which proposes that, cross-linguistically, there is a correlation between culminative prosodic prominence and focus. Chichewa focus prosody is problematic for the Stress-Focus correlation, because words with in-situ focus do not bear sentential...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this paper, we argue that clefts in Zulu have a bipartite structure: a copular sentence with an adjoined DP/clause. This structure accounts for the prosody of clefts. Each constituent is parsed into a separate Intonation Phrase by the independently motivated phrasing algorithm of Zulu. It also accounts for the syntactic properties of Zulu clefts...
Chapter
Full-text available
Non-concatenative morphological phenomena appear on the face of it to require a powerful morphological component, capable of more than straightforward addition of affixes consisting of segmental material. We propose that the full range of non-concatenative phenomena may be completely accounted for in piece-based terms using analytical tools that ar...
Article
KulaNancy C., BotmaBert and NasukawaKuniya (eds.) (2011). Continuum companion to phonology. (Continuum Companions.) London: Continuum International Publishing Group. Pp. xv+524. - Volume 29 Issue 1 - Laura J. Downing
Article
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The goal of this paper is to survey the accent systems of the indigenous languages of Africa. Although roughly one third of the world’s languages are spoken in Africa, this continent has tended to be underrepresented in earlier stress and accent typology surveys, like Hyman (1977). This one aims to fill that gap. Two main contributions to the typol...
Article
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Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: General Session and Parasession on Pragmatics and Grammatical Structure (1997)
Article
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In this paper we compare two current theories about the syntax-phonology interface. One theory proposes that spell-out domains directly define phonological phrases. In the alternative, Edge based mapping theory, prosodic domains are defined based on an algorithm asymmetrically mapping syntactic constituent edges (for example, phase edges) to prosod...
Article
Previous work on Chichewa has argued, based on relatively simple sentences, that Phonological Phrases align with XP edges and that lexical XPs must be parsed into a single Phonological Phrase, unless they contain a focused element. In this study, we test previous analyses on more complex sentences: those containing relative clauses and other nomina...
Article
In this paper we investigate two typical Cushitic reduplication patterns, CVC- initial and -C final. They were chosen, as they would appear to be especially problematic for the generalized template theory of reduplication developed within OT: neither CVC- nor -C is an unmarked syllable or unmarked metrical foot. The challenge for any analysis is to...
Article
Full-text available
Earlier studies of Chichewa phrasal prosody - Kanerva (Focus and phrasing in Chichewa phonology, Garland, 1990) and Truckenbrodt (Phonological phrases: Their relation to syntax, focus and prominence, MIT, 1995, Linguistic Inquiry 30: 219-255, 1999, Linguistische Berichte 203: 273-296, 2005) - claim that Phonological Phrases in this language can pot...
Article
Previous work on the prosodic phrasing of left and right dislocations in Bantu languages has shown that one finds two basic patterns: an asymmetric phrasing pattern where only right dislocations are phrased separately from what precedes, and a symmetric pattern, where both left and right dislocations phrase separately from their surroundings. This...
Article
In phase-based syntax, syntactic structure is sent in chunks – spell-out domain by spell-out domain – for phonological interpretation. The spell-out domain of an embedded clause would, then, form a separate phonological domain from its matrix. In this paper, I test this theory on the prosodic phrasing of relative clauses in some Bantu languages, an...
Chapter
Full-text available
Shanghai Chinese and Nguni Bantu languages (including Zulu) are both tone languages, and both have a set of phonetically voiceless consonants which have a pitch lowering effect on the tone of a following vowel. In a recent paper, Jessen and Roux (2002) propose that depressor consonants in these two languages can be characterized by the same [slack...
Article
The articles in this collection address an old problem that has received renewed attention in the recent linguistic literature (e.g. Baerman et al. 2010), namely, how to account for the fact that we find gaps in otherwise productive morphosyntactic constructions. For example, in English morphology, even though all verbs are expected to have a past-...
Article
This paper presents a preliminary survey of the positions and prosodies associated with Wh-questions in two Bantu languages spoken in Malawi. The paper shows that the two languages are similar in requiring focused subjects to be clefted. Both also require 'which' questions and 'because of what' questions to be clefted or fronted. However, for other...
Article
The papers in this volume were originally presented at the Workshop on Bantu Wh-questions, held at the Institut des Sciences de l’Homme, Université Lyon 2, on 25-26 March 2011, which was organized by the French-German cooperative project on the Phonology/Syntax Interface in Bantu Languages (BANTU PSYN). This project, which is funded by the ANR and...
Article
Full-text available
A body of work in Prosodic Morphology clearly establishes the importance of prosodic constituents like the foot as templates conditioning morpheme size. A striking finding of this research is that morphological footing is independent of metrical footing in many languages, as the footing required for particular morphological processes is often not i...
Article
Full-text available
All of the papers in the volume except one (Kaji) take up some aspect of relative clause construction in some Bantu language. Kaji's paper aims to account for how Tooro (J12; western Uganda) lost phonological tone through a comparative study of the tone systems of other western Uganda Bantu languages. The other papers examine a range of ways of for...
Article
This book presents insights on the phonology-morphology interface. It discusses a wide range of central theoretical issues, including the role of paradigms in synchronic grammars, and does so in the context of a wide variety of languages including several non-Indo-European languages. Paradigm uniformity has a long tradition in pre-generative lingui...
Article
This paper examines locative relatives in Durban Zulu. We show that locative relatives differ from nominal relatives crucially in prosodic phrasing as well as in resumptive pronoun marking. We propose that the best way to account for locative relatives in Zulu is to resort to the old style adjunction analysis of relative clauses, with an empty oper...
Article
All of the papers in the volume except one (Kaji) take up some aspect of relative clause construction in some Bantu language. Kaji’s paper aims to account for how Tooro (J12; western Uganda) lost phonological tone through a comparative study of the tone systems of other western Uganda Bantu languages. The other papers examine a range of ways of for...
Article
Full-text available
As work like McCarthy (2002: 128) notes, pre-Optimality Theory (OT) phonology was primarily concerned with representations and theories of subsegmental structure. In contrast, the role of representations and choice of structural models has received little attention in OT. Some central representational issues of the pre-OT era have, in fact, become...
Article
This paper tests three current theories of the phonology-syntax interface – Truckenbrodt (1995), Pak (2008) and Cheng & Downing (2007, 2009) – on the prosody of relative clauses in Chewa. Relative clauses, especially restrictive relative clauses, provide an ideal data set for comparing these theories, as they each make distinct predictions about th...
Article
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The inspiration for both the title and the theme of this paper is John Goldsmith’s talk at the 20th ACAL, held at the University of Illinois in 1989. At that time, the dominant research paradigm was autosegmental phonology, a theory which is concerned with issues in the representation of distinctive features (Goldsmith 1976; Leben 2006). Work on Af...
Article
Full-text available
This article provides a detailed investigation of the prosody and syntax of dislocation in Durban Zulu, an Nguni Bantu language spoken it? South Africa. With focus elements obligatorily appearing in an immediately after the verb position, non-focused elements within a verb phrase have to be right- or left-dislocated. We discuss the asymmetries betw...
Article
This paper tests how well two theories of tone–segment interactions account for the lowering effect of so-called depressor consonants on tone in languages of the Shona and Nguni groups of Southern Bantu. I show that single source theories, which propose that pitch lowering is inextricably linked to consonant voicing, as they are reflexes of the sam...
Article
Full-text available
Much work on the interaction of prosody and focus assumes that, cross-linguistically, there is a necessary correlation between the position of main sentence stress (or accent) and focus, and that an intonational pitch change on the focused element is a primary correlate of focus. In this paper, I discuss primary data from three Bantu languages – Ch...
Article
Full-text available
1 Introduction As work since Spencer (1998) points out, Optimality Theory redefines the exponence of morphological processes like reduplication, for example, in purely realizational or a-morphous (Anderson 1992) terms: • The input form of reduplicative morphemes in work since McCarthy & Prince (1993) is simply a label, RED, linking the reduplicativ...
Article
Full-text available
It is commonly asserted that, cross-linguistically, there is a necessary correlation between the position of sentence stress (or prominence) and focus. In this paper, I present data from three different Southern Bantu languages and show that, while all have sentence stress (or prominence), the position of prominence is inflexible. It does not move...
Article
Prosodic morphology concerns the interaction of morphological and phonological determinants of linguistic form and the degree to which one determines the other. Although prosodic morphology has been the testing ground for theoretical developments in phonology over the past twenty years, from autosegmental theory to optimality theory, this is the fi...
Article
Full-text available
The collection of papers in this volume presents results of a collaborative project between the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, the Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie und Universalienforschung (ZAS) in Berlin, and the University of Leiden. All three institutions have a strong interest in the linguistics of...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a sketch of the prosodic, syntactic and morphological means of expressing focus in Chitumbuka, an underdescribed Bantu language of Malawi. The chief prosodic correlate of focus is boundary narrowing - rephrasing conditioned by focus - which is used not only to signal in situ focus but also in syntactic and morphological focus co...
Article
The collection of papers in this volume presents results of a collaborative project between the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, the Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie und Universalienforschung (ZAS) in Berlin, and the University of Leiden. All three institutions have a strong interest in the linguistics of...
Article
Full-text available
It is widely attested, cross-linguistically, for both words and prosodic morphemes to be required to be minimally bimoraic or disyllabic. Work since McCarthy and Prince (1986) argues that these minimality effects fall out from the Prosodic Hierarchy. Requiring the relevant morpheme to be a Prosodic Word and dominate a stress Foot automatically also...
Chapter
This introductory chapter provides a brief historical overview of the sorts of phonological exceptions that paradigm uniformity (and contrast) have been proposed to explain. Section 1.2 discusses the role of paradigms in pre-generative work. Section 1.3 shows how paradigm uniformity effects are captured in traditional rule-based approaches, i.e. in...
Chapter
This chapter argues that the cyclic causative doubling found in Bantu languages such as Jita (spoken in Tanzania) and Bemba (spoken in Zambia) provides evidence in favor of the latter approach. The chapter proceeds as follows. Section 6.2 presents the Jita causative doubling data. Then, following Hyman's account of similar Bemba data, it is shown t...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents preliminary results of a phonetic and phonological study of the Ntcheu dialect of Chichewa spoken by Al Mtenje (one of the co-authors). This study confirms Kanerva's (1990) work on Nkhotakota Chichewa showing that phonological re-phrasing is the primary cue to information structure in this language. It expands on Kanerva's work...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper I discuss a source of reduplicative (non-)correspondence common to Bantu tone languages which has not received attention in the formal literature. In many Bantu languages, the entire RED+Base complex forms a single domain for realisation of the Base stem tone, leading to the occurrence of non-corresponding marked tone in both the RED...
Article
The theory of reduplication developed in this book distinguishes itself from most recent work in reduplication in important ways. First of all, it adopts the Distributed Morphology framework (Halle & Marantz 1993, 1994, Noyer 1997) and a derivational, rule-based approach to reduplication (and to phonology in general). It explicitly argues again...
Article
Full-text available
In Jita (E/J 25; Suguti), as in many other Bantu languages (see, e.g., Hyman 1994, Labroussi 1999, Schadeberg 1995, Zoll 1995), some morphemes which begin with a high, front vocoid trigger spirantisation of some preceding consonants. What is puzzling in these languages is that (a) only some consonants undergo spirantisation and (b) phonologically s...
Article
Full-text available
As Mutaka & Hyman (1990) and Mutaka (1994) show, the Kinande reduplication patterns in (1) present several analytical challenges (eri- is the infinitive prefix; the reduplicant is underlined):
Article
In this paper, I discuss four different verb forms in Ndebele (a Nguni Bantu language spoken mainly in Zimbabwe) - the imperative, reduplicated, future and participial. I show that while all four are subject to minimality restrictions, minimality is satisfied differently in each of these morphological contexts. To account for this, I argue that in...
Article
Larry M. Hyman & Charles W. Kisseberth (eds.),Theoretical aspects of Bantu tone (CSLI Lecture Notes 82). Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications, 1998. Pp. x+366. - - Volume 35 Issue 3 - Laura J. Downing
Article
Full-text available
Cross-linguistically, onsetless syllables not only have limited distribution but also exhibit exceptional prosody: in some languages they are excluded from reduplication, or cannot bear main stress or a high tone. These exceptional properties are clearly linked to the relative ill-formedness of onsetless syllables, but previous analyses do not form...
Chapter
Full-text available
In KiHehe and IsiXhosa, the verb stem is the base for reduplication, and the reduplicant is prefixed to the stem ((la; 2a). As in other languages (McCarthy & Prince 1986, 1993a,b, 1995), the reduplicant (RED) is misaligned with vowel-initial stems: infixed after the initial vowel, in IsiXhosa (lb) and “exfixed” before a prefix which is syllabified...

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